THE coronavirus has seen a Woodley-based business have extra, extra business – now you can read all about it.
Every morning, a team from Brightons News collect, sort and deliver newspapers and magazines to hundreds of homes and businesses across the Thames Valley. On a weekly basis, more than 50,000 newspapers and magazines drop through letterboxes.
The pick up the latest copies from a wholesaler near the Madejski Stadium at 3.30am, with the first deliveries coming through letterboxes shortly after.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, two things happened: corporate clients closed their doors and stopped their newspaper order, while national newspapers offered 12 weeks of free home delivery.
Owner Rob Brighton said: “All offices closed – corporate customers had newspapers delivered for their receptions and hotel customers had their copies. That all disappeared overnight.
“The national newspapers offered deliveries for those self-isolating. We saw a big uptake in the number of people not going out, but wanting a newspaper.
“One side of the business cancelled out the other.”
And he said that his new customers are sticking around: “People have been pleasantly surprised by our service. We’re a professional outlet that will deliver hassle-free.
“People have told us that the 12 weeks delivery was so great that they’re carrying on. The retention rate has been fantastic.”
Mr Brighton said that some of the new customers had tried other companies and weren’t receiving their daily deliveries until around 10am.
“The feedback we get is that people are delighted to receive their papers much earlier. They told us that they were going to cancel (after the offer ended) but felt the service was so great that they were going to carry on.”
The net result is an increase is the number of customers, and as lockdown continues to lift they will get even busier.
“Our business is growing,” Mr Brighton said.
“In the first two weeks, we were losing 200 corporate clients and gained 500 new domestic customers. Hotels, hospitals, receptions, canteens all went overnight.
“They won’t come back in the short-term, but we’ll be ready for them when they do.”
The company, which is based out of Woodley Park Estate, off Reading Road in Woodley has made every effort to keep staff and customers safe during the pandemic.
“Our working practices have changed completely,” Mr Brighton said. “We have clean vans, sterilising them and ensuring the guys have the right equipment. (PPE) is second nature to them now, it’s become pretty much the norm.
“We are keeping on top of it.”
It’s been more than supplying newspapers – the company also delivers milk, eggs and bread.
“We were even delivering flour at one stage,” he said. “If we could help customers, we were helping them.”
Why does Mr Brighton think demand is growing?
“It’s a generational thing,” he said. “Over 50s still want printed news. Newspapers are good for sitting down to read cover to cover, something the younger generation like doing at weekends.”
The company has only furloughed one employee – for health reasons. The rest of the team have adapted to their new normal and thrived.
“They all know what they’re doing and they get on with it,” Mr Brighton said. “They pull together.”
The delivery area includes all parts of Wokingham borough, Reading and surrounding areas including High Wycombe, Theale and Maidenhead.
A spokesperson from Deliver My Newspaper said: “There’s never been a more important time for quality journalism and we have seen readers turn sharply to Home News Delivery over the past few months to ensure they don’t miss out on their favourite newspaper.
“Since the middle of March, Deliver My Newspaper has been taken up by over 280,000 readers with over 400 extra retailers joining the 6,500 already present on the site. We are delighted that the platform has helped retailers like Brightons News connect with new customers to both help their business and serve their local communities throughout the coronavirus pandemic and moving forwards.”
For more details, call Brighton’s on 0118 966 7788 or log on to www.brightonsnewsagents.co.uk