When COVID-19 struck, many businesses including pubs and restaurants across the UK had to immediately close. Not only did this cause significant organisational and economic pressures for businesses, but companies in the hospitality industry still had fresh produce available, which would go to waste.

“Quite early on in the pandemic, we decided that we still wanted to help serve our local community in south London, by selling the incredible produce which we usually use in our pub and restaurant,” said director of Camberwell Arms, James Dye. “We work with small farmers and produce suppliers, so our products are of the highest quality and people locally still wanted to have the opportunity to support businesses like this.”

With the entrepreneurial spirit which has seen the Camberwell Arms enjoy five successful years in the Capital to date, James and his small team launched an ordering service for fresh produce as well as ready-made meals which they would normally serve in their gastropub.

“We saw the number of orders rise very quickly and we soon realised that we needed to offer a delivery service as well as collection. One of our team used to be a bike courier in central London, so happily stepped up to the challenge. However, this soon became too much of a task for one person and his bike! This is where the Mercedes-Benz Vans loan scheme came in, which we took advantage of through Dealer, Rygor Commercials,” James added.

Rebekah Barclay, brand marketing manager at Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, said: “When the Coronavirus pandemic reached a peak, we really wanted to do something to help small, independent businesses, who were trying to adapt their business models to get through these challenging times. The loan scheme was an application process for independent businesses with less than 20 employees, who if approved, could utilise a Mercedes-Benz van for three months to adapt their current business model, to help them through this challenging time.”

James said: “The Mercedes-Benz Vito van has been a game changer and has allowed us to pivot to an adapted business model. It’s been a great vehicle for the city and certainly much more efficient for deliveries. Although we hope to re-open the pub and restaurant in line with COVID-19 guidelines in the next couple of weeks, we plan to continue to run our grocery shop alongside. Not only have we really enjoyed running this part of the business, we have seen the positive impact it has on people – locals still want to have access to quality food and drink. What’s more, the future is still very uncertain, and this business model offers us flexibility, which has never been so important.”

John Lloyd, van sales manager at Rygor Commercials Heathrow, said: “As a Mercedes-Benz Vans Dealer, it has been great to be able to work with the manufacturer to offer James and the Camberwell Arms team this van for three months, to help keep their grocery delivery business on the move. We are always committed to keeping our customers on the road, especially during these difficult times.”