Kent family firm launches local delivery of fresh seasonal produce
Shorne-based fresh produce supplier, TH Brown and Son, has switched its focus from wholesale distribution to local delivery, thanks to support from NatWest.
After government guidelines forced TH Brown’s customer base of pubs, hotels, restaurants and schools to close, the business diversified quickly to provide the surrounding rural community, especially the vulnerable and those self-isolating, with essential fresh produce.
Since 1938, TH Brown has supplied the catering trade with fresh produce from its Kent farm in Shorne, near Gravesend. The business is perfectly located for accessing local Kent produce, London wholesale markets and for making deliveries throughout Kent and South East London.
The family-run firm has now launched an online shop, selling veg boxes full of seasonal fruit and vegetables, as well as other essential items including eggs, milk, butter and potatoes. These are all available for collection in Shorne or free delivery within a 5-mile radius.
Using NatWest Tyl, a payments tool for SMEs, customers can pay for their purchases online, over the phone or via contactless card machines on delivery. The business has sold nearly 3000 veg boxes since launching the service in March.
Nick Brown, Managing Director, said: “After the majority of our customers were forced to close, I realised we could utilise our supply chain of wholesale markets and local growers to continue sourcing fresh produce and deliver it directly to consumers, instead of businesses.
“We have no previous experience of selling directly to consumers and had been invoicing our clients monthly, which is why the support from NatWest has been invaluable. We have received prompt and clear advice from NatWest on payment options and this has influenced our decision to use Tyl to offer the whole package to our customers.
“As the pandemic continues, we hope that our new online shop will help more people across Kent access fresh produce and essential grocery items more easily. The feedback from customers has been really positive and in some cases our service is a real lifeline for those on their own or isolating. Customers have been asking if we will continue after lockdown as it’s the freshest produce they’ve had.”
Lucas Douch, NatWest Relationship Manager and Mark Bibey, NatWest Tyl Business Development Manager, have supported Nick and his team during their diversification.
Lucas said: “At NatWest, our focus is supporting our customers through this challenging time. I have worked with TH Brown for almost two years and since we provided funding for their commercial unit last year, the team’s dedication to providing customers with both a high-quality service and the best local produce is fantastic. It has been a pleasure working out practical solutions to help a forward-thinking business continue operating in uncertain times.”
The online shop can be found at www.thbrownandson.co.uk