April 8, 2020 @ 10:55 by Alison Cowie
A North East taxi firm has introduced a new delivery service to link some of the region’s most iconic businesses with their customers.
Blueline Taxis, which has hundreds of drivers operating throughout the region, launched a new Grab app yesterday (April 7). The www.grabnortheast.co.uk website went live at the same time.
The app will allow people to order food and drink from the region’s eateries, will also catering for other products and suppliers, including skincare, pet food, protein bars and ‘little learner’ activity boxes.
Tom Shanks, the company’s finance director, explained: “We’re a massive transport company and in ordinary times can complete more than 85,000 journeys a week. Obviously, because of the COVID-19 crisis, people are taking far fewer journeys so taxis are being used less. It has been a massive challenge to our business and we’ve had to adapt.
“Grab is our response; a way of getting the produce of our home-grown local food and drink businesses, and other products, to customers who can’t leave their homes.
“It’s going to be an important lifeline for thousands of isolated local people.
“We’ve invested about £100,000 so far into the venture, but we believe Grab could become a multi million-pound business.
Tom continued: “We’ve already circulated £25,000 worth of vouchers among NHS and other vital COVID-19 workers. We’ve also distributed 500 custom-made gift boxes to hospitals and ambulance stations as our way of saying thank you to NHS workers. The chocolate went down particularly well with nurses!”
Regional brands such as Dicksons, the Vaulkhard Group, Marlish Water, snack firm Oatein, Tyne Bank Brewery, Bowers Butchers, Café 1901, J.R. Holland, Sambuca, The Newcastle Gin Co, Clearly Drinks in Sunderland, Newcastle Skin Clinic, My Pet HQ, Templeman Retail, and Vending and Hoults Yard-based Full Circle Brew Co and The Pip Stop are among the businesses that have already signed up for Grab.
“We’re adding new providers and suppliers daily, and we’re delighted with the range and quality of companies involved,” added Tom, whose grandparents, Coline and Audrey Shanks established Blueline in 1958.
Blueline’s new venture has also partnered with The Greggs Foundation – a charitable trust aiming to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged people within our local communities – as part of its company ethos of giving back.
Grab is also being supported by Food and Drink North East (FADNE), the organisation that champions the region’s food and drink community. The alliance will see FADNE Local Heroes food boxes – made up from local producers and suppliers – available via Grab for same or next day delivery
FADNE Founder and CEO Chris Jewitt said: “Blueline is an iconic, successful and innovative regional company. This partnership feels like a very symbolic moment in this trade initiative. For the North East food and drink sector to survive and grow beyond this crisis, it is critical that we develop such partnerships.
“We are delighted to be working with Blueline which we believe will ensure the success of our Local Heroes campaign.”