Despite the challenges many businesses are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, some parts of the economy are booming. Not least the grocery home delivery sector. During lockdown, not only did the tech savvy population increase their normal online shopping activity, but they were joined by a whole new generation of older shoppers, unable to visit stores, who have changed their habits – probably permanently.
The move to online shopping and home delivery was growing before the pandemic hit, but the events of this year have massively accelerated the trend. So much so that supermarkets have found themselves struggling to keep up with demand.
Accordingly, most of the major players have announced plans to restructure and expand their delivery fleets to better serve their online customers. Only last week, Britain's second largest supermarket group, Sainsbury’s announced that they will have doubled pre-COVID-19 pandemic online capacity by the end of October by adding new click and collect locations and almost 1,000 more home delivery vans compared to last year.
All of the ‘big four’ – Tesco, Asda and Morrisons as well as Sainsburys are all looking at similar investment to boost online capability, with the market leader Tesco being one of the first to announce expansion of its fleet by 200 vans at the beginning of lockdown in March, while Waitrose added 150 vans to its fleet in June in order to expand its delivery capacity to 250,000 a week.
“All this is of course great news for suppliers of refrigeration systems for home delivery vans and in turn for SPAL, since we provide our high performance fans and blowers to the majority of the leading companies in the sector”, says SPAL UK MD Matthew Morris.
“We have seen orders up by 35% from some customers; the expansion of all the supermarket fleets – as well as increased demand from independents – has seen a requirement for phenomenal volumes of fans.”
SPAL customer Suffolk-based GAH Refrigerated Transportation has become the supplier of choice for many operators who require powerful yet fuel-efficient refrigeration systems for delivery of temperature sensitive goods, including several of the leading supermarkets. The company has seen unprecedented demand this year and continues to specify SPAL fans for the thousands of units manufactured by the company to meet the rising home delivery and store replenishment demands of the major supermarket chains.
The final word goes to Shaun O’Farrell, GAH Refrigeration Director, who says, “We expect the fans to last as long as possible and deliver at least 10,000 hours – we specify SPAL fans because we know they will be reliable and it’s a high quality genuine product that we can trust.”