John Crichton

Hats Off Everybody, To Coca-Cola European Partners – And Our Drivers!

Coca-Cola European Partners: ‘Hat’s off to them’, says John Crichton in the latest post on his unique blog…


Hello again, I hope you’re staying safe and battling on…

Terry Wogan – remember him? – used to refer to World War 2, in his trademark understated way, as ‘the last unpleasantness’. I reckon he would have thought of the COVID-19 situation as ‘the current unpleasantness’, and with good reason.

The world is living in fear now as it did back then, between 1939 and 1945. Right at the top of ‘things to worry about’ is the fact that this unseen enemy is killing people and nobody’s safe; but not too far behind that is the economic disaster that comes as part and parcel of ‘lock-down’ and ‘social distancing’. As it is with the virus, none of us are immune to its affects…

Coca-Cola European Partners
Ready to load…

It’s three-and-a-half years since my first blog appeared ‘The Extra Mile’ ARN’s news blog. It was called ‘Nobody Does It Better’ and I was reminded of it the other day when one of our most valuable partners, Coca-Cola European Partners, went above and beyond the call of duty to help out the NHS. More of that later…

It was back in October 2016, when ‘Nobody Does It Better’ was posted: as usual, I was doing a bit of trumpet blowing on behalf of the business. I wrote ‘there’s only one wholesaler out there that’s dedicated to investing in the vending industry – and that’s us, Automatic Retailing. Every time we make a delivery, it’s to a vending company. Unlike any other wholesaler, everything we do is geared to exceeding the expectations of this very, very specific market sector… We stock confectionery, drinks, snacks; coffee, vending cups, (more than 40 lines of vending cups, by the way) and ancillaries. In fact, everything a vending operator wants, we’ve got it; in stock and ready to go.’

Which is as true now as it was then, by the way. Last year, we shipped over 8.5m cases of product. Ask me to explain the secret of our success and I’d say that the fact we have an order completion success rate of 98.8% might have something to do with it…

But ‘therein lies the rub’, as the aforesaid Mr Wogan might have mis-quoted ‘Bill from Stratford’ – because, to maintain the excellence of our service, we have to keep our massive warehouse full to brimming with stock. Which is great until, that is, the bottom falls out of the market…

Coca-Cola European Partners’ products take up a lot of space in our warehouse. They provide us with many of the vending industry’s best-selling products: there’s Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar; Diet Coke, Fanta; Dr Pepper’s, Sprite; Lilt, Monster; Oasis and Glaceau Smart Water – all of them consumer favourites and all of them for sale in vending machines the length and breadth of the country.

So, you can imagine the situation in which we found ourselves when our business suddenly dropped by an unthinkable percentage. Pretty depressing stuff, but we’re all in it together…

Coca Coca-Cola European Partners
Ready to go…

We needed a pick-me-up. Then, Coca-Cola European Partners did something amazing. They made the decision to provide our overstretched and under-resourced NHS workers with free drinks. The majority of them were destined for the brand-new ‘Nightingale’ hospitals that have sprung up around the country; the rest would go to those hotels that have been given over to NHS staff, so that they can continue to work without endangering their nearest and dearest back home. It was a great gesture.

We were delighted when Coca-Cola asked ARN to give them access to the expertise of our peerless warehouse staff and delivery drivers. They knew they could rely on our lads to make sure the donations arrived on time, in full and with as little inconvenience to the recipients as possible.

It meant we would be ‘in the thick of it’, and in tough times, it turned out to be a real morale booster.

We had a really great e-mail from one of the Nightingale hospitals complimenting our delivery driver, remarking on how professional and courteous he’d been and how nothing had been too much trouble for him.

Some of them, it’s true, look like they could play the ‘desperados’ in a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western – no offence lads, but you know who you are! However, I’ve always said that our drivers truly are modern day Knights of the Road and they’ve proved me right once again. So, I want to take this opportunity to salute them. They may not have had starring roles in this Coca-Cola European Partners production, but they have done so much to add to the feel-good factor, just as Coca-Cola expected.

Dan Hetherington

‘I’m proud to represent CCEP, whose main priority throughout this crisis has been to care for its people and communities in which its operates, whilst serving its customers’, said Dan Hetherington, Manager – National & Key Account for Coca-Cola European Partners. ‘Donating soft drinks to our front line workers and food banks has been one of the ways we’ve been supporting communities in GB. ‘When I asked Allan at ARN to support us with the distribution of soft drinks to NHS workers, his team were quick to respond, getting our drinks into the hands of those who need them. A big thank-you to Allan and his team and I look forward to working together in the coming weeks and months to help our vending customers get back to business.’

So hats off everybody, to Coca-Cola European Partners. They’ve looked after our NHS heroes. Hats off, too, to our lads. They’ve done us – and The NHS – proud.

Meanwhile, back to work.

Stay safe, and don’t forget: gan canny.


*John Crichton is Managing Director of Automatic Retailing Northern Ltd.

More on ARN on Planet Vending is HERE







About the author

The Editor

Planet Vending’s Editor is Ian Reynolds-Young and it’s Ian’s unique writing talent that has made PV what it is today – the best read (red) vending blog in the world, and vending’s best read (reed). Ian ‘tripped and fell into vending’, in the capacity of PR executive, before launching a specialist agency, ‘reynoldscopy’, dedicated to the UK Vending business. The company continues to represent the interests of many of the sector’s leading brands.

‘It’s all about telling stories’, he says. ‘We want to make every visit to PV a rewarding experience. By celebrating the achievements of the UK’s operating companies, we’re on a mission to debunk the idea that vending is retailing’s poor relation.’

Get Your Friday Fix!

Subscribe to our email updates and get the latest vending news directly to your inbox every Friday afternoon. Simples!
* = required field

Follow us on Twitter



Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletters 

We send an email every Friday afternoon so you can stay up to date with all latest vending news and events. 
%d bloggers like this: