Iceland Foods is switching its entire fleet of home delivery vehicles to Mercedes-Benz Sprinters.
Iceland is replacing the 1,300 vans currently assigned to this operation with Sprinter 313 CDI chassis cabs fitted with temperature-controlled box bodies – more than 300 will be on the road by the end of this year.
Mercedes is also sponsoring a Centre of Excellence where staff will be trained for the service.
A key factor in the decision to choose Sprinters was the availability of a fully automatic transmission. Head of home Alex McKinlay said: “Not only does the auto ’box make a difficult job that bit easier for our drivers, it will also improve safety and help to reduce wear and tear on the driveline. This, coupled with the 24-hour support of Mercedes-Benz dealers, will keep vehicle downtime to a minimum.”
The move follows the retailer’s decision to return to the online shopping arena in May. Chairman and chief executive Malcolm Walker said at the time: “Iceland was the first UK food retailer to launch a nationwide online shopping service as long ago as 1999, but maintaining it was not a priority when I was faced with the challenge of turning around a near bankrupt company on my return to the business in 2005.
“Now the time is right to re-launch the service, building on our well-established and smoothly running home delivery infrastructure with an easy-to-use website that sets new standards for customer friendliness.”
All but a handful of Iceland’s 800 stores already offer a home delivery service used by up to 190,000 customers every week.
The vehicles are being supplied by Road Range which is also providing specialist driver-trainers to work alongside Iceland’s own team at the centre.
Nearly 1,300 of Iceland’s 1,600 drivers are scheduled to attend this course during the first year, while longer-term staff development initiatives will also be introduced.
Centre of excellence training manager Simon Pill said: “Our drivers are ambassadors for Iceland and never more so than where online shoppers are concerned, because the doorstep delivery is likely to be their only direct interaction with a representative of our business.”