Fast-growing Woods Foodservice has made a flying start to 2019, winning a prestigious industry award for the fifth year in succession, and commissioning its first nine vans from the latest, ground-breaking Mercedes-Benz Sprinter range.
Supplied by Dealer S & B Commercials, the new arrivals wear eye-catching liveries featuring images of, and quotes from, customers and members of the Woods Foodservice team. They have joined a fleet of 24 vans, every one a Sprinter.
The family-owned firm operates from headquarters in Uxbridge, and has been supplying top chefs across London and the Home Counties with general and specialist, dry, chilled and frozen ingredients for more than 50 years.
Hundreds of restaurant and pub owner/operators and professional chefs again voted it Readers’ Choice Foodservice Company of the Year at January’s Restaurant Magazine Awards 2019, which celebrate the hospitality sector’s best products, suppliers, brands and equipment.
Key to this success, in addition to the quality and breadth of a portfolio that extends to more than 2,500 regular products sourced from all over the world, was the company’s ultra-reliable, fast and efficient delivery service. Provided they have placed their orders by midnight, customers will receive their goods within a two-hour ‘window’ the following day; for those using its online system the order deadline is extended to 2am.
Woods Foodservice has been running Mercedes-Benz vans since 2006. Logistics Manager Sam Durrant said: “Our business is about delivering excellence, and we made the switch because of the Sprinter’s reputation for reliability, and the three-pointed star’s premium brand image. It has proved a wise decision.”
S & B Commercials’ mobile technicians service the fleet on the company’s own premises. Like all Mercedes-Benz vans maintained within the manufacturer’s Dealer network, the Sprinters come with MobiloVan cover, which includes free, emergency assistance, and are covered by three-year, unlimited mileage warranties.
“Over the last 12 years we have only suffered a tiny handful of breakdowns,” recalled Mr Durrant. “On each occasion a Mercedes-Benz technician has attended the scene very quickly, and invariably repaired the vehicle at the roadside before sending our driver on their way. That level of support is invaluable.”
Woods Foodservices’ new vehicles are the subject of flexible, low-cost funding agreements with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. As its first examples from the third-generation Sprinter range launched last year, they offer unrivalled levels of quality, quietness and smoothness.
The new model boasts a completely redesigned cab interior and 4G Internet connectivity, making it the most technologically advanced van on the road. The cutting-edge Mercedes MBUX infotainment system with user-friendly voice control function is a standard feature, while Mercedes PRO connect provides customers with access to a range of fast, efficient and cost-effective vehicle management services.
All nine are 314 CDI L3 H2 variants, with long bodies and high roofs. They are powered by economical 2.1-litre engines that produce 143 hp and drive the rear wheels – new Sprinter is also available, for the first time, with front-wheel drive, and the 314 CDI variant can be specified in either configuration.
The cargo bays are divided into three compartments – most of the space is used for carrying dry, ambient goods, with 20% allocated to chilled and 10% to frozen product. Rather than conventional refrigeration, Woods Foodservice employs the eutectic system of temperature control, which entails the use of portable boxes cooled overnight. Each vehicle typically makes between 10 and 25 ‘drops’ per day.
Sam Durrant continued: “Our company has grown by over 30% in each of the last three years, and we’re targeting 35% this year, which will lift turnover to around £20 million. This progress has been achieved without resort to conventional advertising. Instead, in addition to our excellent customer service, we rely on our vans to promote the business when they’re out on the road, and these fantastic new Sprinters are the best-looking yet.
“The drivers love them, too. You could be in a high-end car, so quiet and smooth is this van, while we’ve also added a number of optional features, including air-conditioning, arm-rests and 360º reversing cameras, to make the experience at the wheel even more enjoyable and relaxing.”
The Sprinter has always been recognised as the benchmark for safety in the van segment, and here, too, the latest version leads the way. New features include the autonomous Active Brake Assist system with pedestrian recognition technology – another industry ‘first’ – and ATTENTION ASSIST, which detects drowsiness in the driver and encourages them to take breaks when tired.
“At Woods Foodservice we’re committed to the highest standards of safety, and to minimising our carbon footprint,” added Mr Durrant. “With so many advanced systems designed to protect drivers and other road users, and lower-emission, Euro 6 engines, our new Sprinters are making an important contribution towards the achievement of both goals.”