Aim High, Work Hard – Grow A Beard.

Meet Chris Dawson, recently promoted to the role of Warehouse Manager


There have been a couple of subtle changes since we ran a story about our new warehouse staff back in September and both of them concern Chris Dawson. You see, Mr. Crisp (as he’s known) was a Picker then but now, he’s Warehouse Manager. And, as if to give himself a more authoritative, managerial look, the Big Fella’s grown a beard.

He’s only been with us of a couple of years but in that time, he’s made his mark as an industrious, enthusiastic grafter and that’s why he’s already been promoted.

Chris is an example of the local lad who joins us on the ground floor and looks up. He makes no bones about it: his aim is to rise as high as he can in the business. ‘The sky’s the limit’.

‘For me, it’s ‘aim high and work hard’’, he says. ‘It’s about having the motivation to look around you and see if anything can be changed to make us work smarter.’ An example of this attitude in action can be seen with AR’s adoption of Radio Frequency ‘guns’ designed to streamline and bring greater accuracy to the task of order fulfilment. Without his prompting, (we nearly wrote ‘nagging’) and nine months of selling the features and benefits of the system to get his fellow managers on board, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

‘It was the best way to go to eliminate picking errors’, he says. ‘We needed to get greater control because in the past couple of years, business has been going through the roof.’

Chris Dawson

‘Going through the roof’ may not be a technical term, but nevertheless, it’s right on the money. Our turnover has increased dramatically since 2011 and these days, (without giving too much commercial info away), we’re regularly doubling the sales that, just eighteen months ago, were celebrated as ‘a good week’.

The introduction of RF guns was a huge step change in the way we work but frankly, it’s just the beginning. Next on the agenda for Chris and his colleagues is AR’s adoption of a system called Warehouse Management. More about that nearer the time but rest assured, it’ll be a real game-changer…

Meanwhile, Mr Crisp continues to aim high and work hard. He’ll be hoping to see a little bit more of his wife and daughter at home in Cramlington than has been the case in recent months. On top of that, he’ll be setting his sights on getting to The Toon as often as possible, to see his beloved Magpies. But for all that, you do get the feeling that, for Chris at this stage if his career, work trumps private life.








Is Purdey’s The Coolest Drink of Right Now?

Purdey’s would be right up with the contenders if there was an award for ‘The Coolest Drink of Right Now’. What’s not to like? The product looks great in its convenient, on-the-go 250ml cans, it has the backing of some serious hipster ads, starring non-other than Idris Elba, in a campaign worth £3m; it’s crammed with tiredness reducing vitamins– so you don’t need a fix of caffeine to give yourself a boost – plus, it’s exempt from the sugar tax.

But that’s not all: Purdey’s is free from artificial flavourings, colours, preservatives and sweeteners and its school compliant. No wonder it’s appearing in more and more vending machines, all over the country!

So, what’s in it? Vitamins C, B2, B3, B6 and B12 contribute to the reduction of tiredness.

Demand is there and the marketing, which encourages consumers to ‘Power Your Day’ and assures them that ‘Everything You Need Is Inside’ means that sales are bound to keep on growing – especially with the power of Britvic behind it!

Don’t miss out.

We understand the importance of quality and we understand the importance of service.

Hello again.

If you’d have asked me in January what my predictions for 2017 were, they wouldn’t have included Palmer & Harvey going under. Like you I suspect, I never saw that coming.


It’d be easy to conclude that wholesaling is something of a dying art – like clog making or Sunderland F.C. winning football matches – but that’s not the way I see things at all.

Wholesaling is getting harder and harder, that’s for sure. There are some customers out there that will change allegiance for the sake of saving a few pennies on a single line. We’re not immune to that at AR, but what we have found in the past 12 months is that the odd customer that did leave us, quickly came back to us.

That’s because it’s the service we offer that makes us unique in the vending trade. We keep our prices keen, that’s for sure; but what’s just as important to us is that we keep our promises. You can count on us to do what we say we’re going to do and these days, where we’re all beholden to a ‘just in time’ approach to the job, reliability is massively important. It’s the difference between running out of stock or not and nobody makes any money from an empty spiral…

Nobody makes any money from an empty spiral…

You don’t have to take our word for it. As you can read here, 2017 saw us win the AVS Outstanding Customer Service Award for the 13th year running and when she was asked to pinpoint the secret of our success, the AVS’s General Manager, Louise Cummings said it was because ‘they understand the importance of quality and they understand the importance of service.’

That was music to my ears.

2017 was a good year for us. We’ve welcomed a number of important new customers and we’ve been swamped by enquiries from manufacturers, who see us as their ideal gateway into the UK’s vending machines. The way we conduct our business continued to evolve in 2017, especially in terms of our procedures and our approach to IT. The web site, for example, has really come into its own as more and more customers use it to place their orders. The evolution will continue next year, too: the warehouse will benefit from advances in technology and we’ll be looking to reduce our carbon footprint by becoming increasingly paper-less.

My colleagues and I are all very proud of AR’s position as the wholesaler the vending industry prefers and I want to take this opportunity, as the festive season approaches, to thank-you for your business and to wish you and your family a healthy and prosperous new year.

And think on: gan canny.


Grenade Sales Are Exploding!

Grenade sales have exploded in recent weeks. If you joined us at Vendex and had a taste, you’ll know why.

Grenade is an innovative and trusted sports performance and energy brand that has built up a huge following ranging amongst professional athletes and fitness enthusiasts the world over and it’s won a whole host of awards.

We’ve got three exciting Grenade lines on offer. First off, there’s Carb Killa High Protein Low Sugar Chocolate Bars.  We’ve got three flavours: Caramel, Cookie and Peanut, which sell in 60gm packs and come to you in outers of 12

Then there are two varieties of Grenade Reload Protein Flapjack: Chocolate Browning Flavour and Chocolate Orange. Both sell in 70gm packs and there are 12 to an outer. And don’t forget: these products are zero-rated when it comes to VAT.






Last but not least, are the Grenade Carb Killa milk-based drinks in three flavours: Banana, Fudge and White Chocolate. They come in 330ml bottles and there are 8 to an outer. If you’re looking for a range that will blow your customers away, look no further than Grenade! And on that bombshell…

Lucky For Some? It’s Thirteen AVS Awards On The Spin For Automatic Retailing!

Ask those companies for whom supplying vending machines is a business priority and they’ll all agree: Associated Vending Services – or the AVS, for short – represents twenty-nine of the most influential, forward thinking vending operators in the UK.

The AVS was established in 1979, when a small group of independent, privately owned vending companies created a member’s consortium. The idea was to purchase as a group to achieve economies of scale and to share best practice on a wide range of business related topics.

One of the secrets of the group’s longevity is that it doesn’t accept any old Tom, Dick or Harry into its midst. On the contrary, AVS members are, without exception, companies with the scale and ambition to raise consumers’ perceptions and expectations of vending. ‘All our members are carefully selected’, AVS General Manager Louise Cummings told us. ‘AVS member companies are experienced, professional vending specialists, whose services are closely vetted and quality assured to ensure that only the best and the most committed are invited to join.’

It’s no wonder, then, that the AVS Awards, presented annually, are amongst the most coveted in the business: if you’re a supplier and the AVS members vote for you as the best in your category, well: that’s worth popping a cork or two of a decent vintage.

But what if, like us, you win the award for thirteen consecutive years?

John Crichton

‘You run out of ways to celebrate’, John Crichton admitted when he returned from the AVS Awards ceremony in Vilamoura with the ‘gong’, once again, in his suitcase. ‘It’s a fantastic compliment to Automatic Retailing as a company that the best in the business have voted for us as ‘the best in the business’ for thirteen years on the spin. Everybody should take great pride in this achievement, from the warehouse lads to the office staff; to the sales people out on the road to senior management and, in my case, very senior management. To have been singled out year after year as we have been is a humbling experience, but rest assured, we’ll all be doing everything we can in the next twelve months to make it fourteen.’

Louise Cummings

‘The partnership of AR with the AVS is such a strong one’, Louise said, ‘because AR understand the needs of our group. They understand the importance of quality and they understand the importance of service, so it’s a perfect fit. The awards are made on the basis of ‘one member one vote’ and they have a completely free hand, so when you think how many suppliers they could vote for, you could end up with twenty-nine different nominations. To my mind, that makes it all the more special that AR have won it for so many years running.’

That’s very kind of Louise to say and we thank her for it; but do you know what? That’s what makes it all the more special for all of us at AR, too.

Automatic Retailing

The Toughest Job In The Place? Meet Lisa, Our New Transport Manager

If you’ve been working with us for any length of time, you’ll appreciate that, at every opportunity, we like to boldly go where we’ve never been before. So, when the chance arose for us to hire our first female Transport Manager we didn’t flinch.

Of course, the fact that Lisa Frankland, (for it is she), was head and shoulders the stand-out candidate rather took the risk out of the boldly-going.

When the vacancy arose, we made a conscious decision to bring in some new ideas by making an external appointment. We were offering ‘a good job’ and consequently, the HR in-tray was soon overflowing with twenty-ish applications. Right from that initial stage, Lisa’s credentials singled her out.

Out of all the applicants invited to a first interview, Lisa’s vast experience raised our eyebrows and when we invited her back she just blew us away with her attitude, knowledge and happy persona. But we were a little bit concerned: you see, all our drivers are lads and all the lads in the warehouse are, er… lads.

They have ‘a language all their own’, you might say, but thanks to her previous job at Owen Pugh, a North East firm most commonly associated with plant-hire, haulage and earth moving, she won’t be unfamiliar with it.

So, she’s equipped and ready to take on what we believe is just about the toughest job in the place. Apart from dealing with the aforementioned lads, it’ll be Lisa’s responsibility to keep our fleet of trucks legal, to make sure they’re all serviced and MOTd; to keep the customers clued-up with due times and inform them of any delays or other issues and to control the routing and deal with outside hauliers. We’ve twenty vehicles of our own, but such are the demands on us that we have to bring in external resources as and when we need them. And that takes some managing…

What’s more, in the New Year when she’s settled in and the Christmas rush is over, we’ll be helping her through her CPC license.

So, be prepared for a new-broom with a wealth of experience and a quiver full of fresh ideas. We’re expecting Lisa Frankland to shake things up and make the best in the business even better.

Good luck, Lisa.


In Vending? Ferrero Means Business

Elsewhere in this edition of ‘The Extra Mile’, we tell the story of Pladis and in particular, how that company’s business in the vending sector has flourished since they appointed a dedicated National Accounts Manager. It’s a story of a successful partnership that, 12 months in, has delivered substantial success for Pladis and – or course – for ARN.

Well, here’s another story that has a similar first chapter – and we’ve every reason to believe that it’ll have the same happy ending…

For the first time, chocolate giant Ferrero has appointed a National Account Manager For Vending. Craig Howard comes on board after two years at Mondelez, where he established some substantial relationships within the vending industry.

It’s his job to bring a fantastic portfolio of household name brands, such as Nutella, Kinder, TicTac and Ferrero Rocher, to the UK’s vending machines. It’s our job to help him do it.

The good news is that we’ve hit the ground running. Kinder Bueno is growing in vending at 27%* year on year, in a category that’s down 5%** in the same period. That’s a real incentive for vending operators to take a closer look. Between you and us, we don’t think the company will rest until it’s made Kinder Bueno the Number One chocolate in vending machines.

And whilst the current focus is on the Bueno brand, new lines are on the horizon and you’ll get to sample some of them at AVEX.

Although Ferrero has exhibited previously at Vendex, this will be the company’s first visit to the UK’s most important vending event . It’s a sign that, when it comes to vending, Ferrero means business, and the only place to get your supplies of these exciting, fast-moving products? You’ve guessed it: ARN.


* Source: Ferrero Sales Figures
** Source: Nielsen