Haulier swaps the high road for burgeoning home deliveries after family farm shop purchase

A former haulier-turned-shopkeeper has stepped into the driving seat of a long-established rural retail outlet after securing funds to fuel his entrepreneurial aspirations.

Michael Fisher parked a career as a long-distance driver when his father-in-law John Money decided to hang his apron at the popular Stallingborough Farm Shop.

And the 30-year-old business is now increasing its presence on the road, having bought three vans to expand a burgeoning home delivery service.

Nine new staff members have also been hired to meet demand for fresh fruit, veg, meats and flowers.

He said: “I always like the idea of running my own business and when the opportunity arose to secure the future of the business and give my father-in-law a long and well-deserved retirement plan, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

“I knew from the outset that running my own business would be a challenging and exciting journey, but when we signed on the dotted line, little did we appreciate just how much and how quickly the business would need to adapt as a result of Covid-19.”

Funds initially stopped the dream, with a need to purchase the business and stock. After exploring different ways of raising money needed, a friend suggested Finance For Enterprise – a delivery partner of British Business Bank-backed Start Up Loans UK.

Michael and Maria Fisher at Stallingborough Farm Shop.

He discussed his plans with Grimsby-based investment manager Jane Cusse who helped Mr Fisher and his wife Maria to secure £40,000 through two start-up loans, topped up by funds provided direct. “The financial support we received helped us to manage our cashflow, particularly during our first few months of trading when we didn’t know how lockdown would affect the business,” he said.

“The Farm Shop had always offered a home delivery service, but the funds we were able to secure from Finance For Enterprise enabled us to continue trading by delivering the fresh produce to the doors of our customers and as a result, we’ve managed to grow the business and create new jobs, something I feel incredibly proud to have achieved.

“Jane was amazing, she took the stress and worry away and kept us regularly updated through the application process.”

A willingness to go ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty has seen the company receive rave reviews from its growing numbers of customers, with plans afoot to further expand the delivery fleet.

Jane said: “The retail sector has been particularly hard hit during the Covid pandemic, Michael and Maria spotted an opportunity to build and diversify their new business and they seized the opportunity.

“After spending time reviewing their business plans I put together a lending package which enabled them to not only acquire the existing company, but one which would help them to put their own mark on the business.

“Despite working in a challenging business climate, Michael and Maria’s hard work has really paid off and the amount of positive feedback they’ve received from their customers is a testament to their dedication and hard work. The Farm Shop is something of an institution in the Grimsby area and it’s great to see that its future is in safe hands.

“Accessing finance is one of the greatest challenges that many new business owners face, but the Start Up Loans scheme was specifically created to support new entrepreneurs. Michael and Maria presented a well thought out business plan, backed by forecasts based on the historical performance of the business and under their leadership the business has gone from strength-to-strength.”

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Amazon buys 11 aircraft to make deliveries faster

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is pictured inside the company’s office in Bengaluru, India, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa

January 5, 2021

(Reuters) -Amazon.com Inc said on Tuesday it bought 11 Boeing 767-300 aircraft, as it looks to boost its delivery capabilities to cater to a surge in online orders.

The aircraft, including seven from Delta Air Lines and four from WestJet Airlines, will join Amazon’s air cargo network by 2022, the online retailer said in a statement https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/transportation/amazon-purchases-11-aircraft-from-delta-and-westjet-to-join-amazon-airs-network.

In June, Amazon had leased 12 Boeing 767-300 converted cargo aircraft from Air Transport Services Group Inc, bringing its total fleet to more than 80. (https://reut.rs/2MCkYHl)

“Having a mix of both leased and owned aircraft in our growing fleet allows us to better manage our operations,” said Sarah Rhoads, vice president of Amazon Global Air.

The company said in October its heightened spending on delivery infrastructure would likely continue over years.

(Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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France and UK work to unlock border as postal deliveries abroad cut and lorries stranded over new Covid-19 mutation — RT UK News

Royal Mail has stopped delivering to several countries that have imposed travel bans on Britain, as the UK tries to clear a backlog of lorries held at the port of Dover, blocked from travelling to Europe amid a new Covid strain.

Britain’s postal service said on Monday that France, Turkey, Canada and other nations had been added to its “on suspension” list, as more than 40 countries worldwide have closed their borders to the UK.

It comes as Boris Johnson said on Monday that the UK is now working with France in order to clear the mostly-European lorry drivers that remain stranded at the port of Dover after the French government shut its borders for 48 hours.

During a Downing Street news briefing the prime minister pledged to clear the backlog, including some 170 HGVs waiting on the M20 motorway, “in the next few hours” after a telephone call with French President Emmanuel Macron.

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“Everyone can shop normally,” Johnson added in a bid to dispel fears that food and medicine supplies would dry up amid the travel shutdown, with some reports of panic buying in British supermarkets on Monday. 

Countries across the world have closed their borders to Britain over the discovery of the VUI-2020/01 strain of Covid-19, which has spread across the country but is especially prevalent in London, the south-east and in eastern England.

Cases of the new variant, which early data suggests is up to 70 percent more transmissible, have also reportedly been discovered in other countries, including Italy, Denmark and Australia.

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The UK government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said at the news briefing that the new strain’s rapid spread might mean that more areas of the country will have to be placed into the toughest Tier 4 coronavirus measures.

“I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country and I think it’s likely, therefore, that measures will need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced,” he said.

On Monday the UK reported a further 33,364 positive coronavirus cases and another 215 fatalities, taking the total death toll to 67,616.

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Tesla blows away estimates as deliveries ramp up, targeting 500K by year’s end amid coronavirus

Tesla (TSLA) reported third-quarter sales and profit that topped expectations, as the company doubled down on its guidance to achieve a record 500,000 vehicle deliveries in 2020 in the face of a global economy still weighed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Shares soared by over 4% in after-hours trading, adding to a stock run-up of more than 400% for the year to date through Wednesday’s close.

Here were the main results from Tesla’s earnings report, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

Ahead of its third-quarter earnings results, Tesla reported earlier this month that it had handed over a record 139,300 vehicles during the three months to September, for an increase of more than 40% over last year. Investors had been homing in to see whether the company still planned to hit a half-million deliveries for the full year.

Still, in order to meet that goal, the company would need to deliver more than 180,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter in an economy still stricken by the virus. On Wednesday, Tesla reiterated ithat it has the capacity installed to produce and deliver 500,000 vehicles this year.

“While achieving this goal has become more difficult, delivering half a million vehicles in 2020 remains our target,” the company said. “Achieving this target depends primarily on quarter over quarter increases in Model Y and Shanghai production, as well as further improvements in logistics and delivery efficiency at higher volume levels.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk gets back into his Tesla after talking to media before visiting the construction site of the future US electric car giant Tesla, on September 03, 2020 in Gruenheide near Berlin. – Tesla builds a compound at the site in Gruenheide in Brandenburg for its first European “Gigafactory” near Berlin. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP) (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

The more affordable Model 3, and newer Model Y, comprised the bulk of the deliveries and all of the growth during the third quarter, while higher-priced Model S and X deliveries declined by more than 12% over last year.

Tesla, however, has been steadily slashing prices especially on its higher-end models in a move that may serve to stoke demand. Last week, it cut the starting price of the Model S twice to $69,420.

The car maker has also been ramping up production and deliveries out of its Shanghai Gigafactory, which has given the company a valuable hub in the world’s largest market for electric vehicles. And auto sales overall in China have rebounded strongly off the lows of its coronavirus lockdown, with sales climbing nearly 13% for a sixth straight monthly gain in September.

Tesla doesn’t break out vehicle deliveries by region, but analyst Dan Ives of WedBush pointed to Model 3 demand out of China as a “linchpin to the global Tesla demand picture,” according to a note this week. Tesla said Wednesday that its Model 3 production capacity had increased to 250,000 units per year, from the 150,000 annual run-rate it targeted initially after the factory first came online in December last year.

The California-based company also broke ground at its second overseas factory in Berlin earlier this year. There, construction “continues to progress rapidly,” the company said in its earnings report, and production is expected to start in 2021.

Tesla’s third-quarter results also come just weeks following the company’s inaugural “Battery Day” in late September. There, CEO Elon Musk laid out a path for the company to begin manufacturing its own “tabless” batteries to improve the cars’ range and power, and eventually help the company launch a $25,000 vehicle.

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Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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Australia Post may be forced into early return to daily deliveries

Labor and the Greens failed at an attempt to reverse the regulatory changes in the Senate, however Liberal backbencher Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has expressed concern and will again attempt to force changes when sittings resume.


Mr Fletcher said at the time the new standards would give Australia Post the “flexibility to respond to the increased demand for parcels”, but there are reports of major backlogs in parcel delivery and delays with deliveries surrounding Father’s Day last month, and the postal service this week warned Australians to allow up to six weeks for deliveries ahead of Christmas.

Australia Post invited its Melbourne-based staff to volunteer their weekends or mid-week to help clear backlogs at its Victorian facilities using their own vehicles to help deliver parcels.

Staff were asked to declare they were able to carry and lift up to 16kg of mail and parcels repeatedly through the day.

Australia Post’s profits have soared during the pandemic as it benefit from an eCommerce boom fuelled by the pandemic.

Revenue rose a record 7 per cent in the 2019-20 financial year, up more than $500 million to nearly $7.5 billion.

It has increased scrutiny on managing director Christine Holgate’s performance despite her decision to take a pay cut and forgo bonuses for the recent financial year.

Australia Post confirmed it paid almost $120,000 for a reputation management consultant as the organisation attempted to defend the changes to delivery times.

In a written statement to the Senate this week, Australia Post said it had advised Mr Fletcher of its decision to engage PR guru Ross Thornton. The contract equated to about $3000-a-day.

A spokeswoman for Mr Fletcher said all questions regarding the hiring of consultants were a matter for the Australia Post board and “should be directed to Australia Post”.


Australia Post said on Monday the company, Domestique, was still engaged but not on an ongoing retainer, and “provided advice on an ad hoc basis”.

It has told customers via emails and on its website this week it is doing “everything we can” to keep delivering during the pandemic.

“Ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic mean there are still some delays as our business operates with additional safety measures to protect our people and customers,” the company said on its website.

“We’re also still experiencing reduced domestic and international flights, while processing unprecedented parcel volumes. The majority of parcels are arriving on time.”

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Australia Post hired $3000-a-day reputation manager as it wound back deliveries

It followed an announcement that Labor and the Greens would seek to overturn temporary regulatory powers granted to Australia Post by the Morrison government to allow letters to be delivered in metropolitan areas every second day, rather than every day, remove the priority mail product and extend delivery time for intrastate letters to five days.


Australia Post said on Monday that Domestique was still engaged but not on an ongoing retainer, and “provided advice on an ad hoc basis”.

The nation’s mail delivery service has provided the information to a Senate committee in response to a series of questions regarding its financial management but has refused to break down how much of its money was spent.

Australia Post’s admission comes amid the organisation’s warnings that Australians should prepare to post their Christmas parcels up to six weeks in advance to ensure gifts arrive in time as it deals with massive backlogs at delivery centres.

Ms Holgate and some of Australia Post’s senior executives are set to be grilled at Senate estimates next week following a string of scandals surrounding personal bonuses payments, intervention over One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s unsolicited mailout of stubby holders to public housing residents and massive delays to services.

Labor government accountability spokeswoman Kimberley Kitching said Ms Holgate brought in Mr Thornton to defend the indefensible.

“He’s being paid $3000 a day. Mr Thornton is lucky there’s electronic transfer of funds – otherwise if the cheque was in the mail from Australia Post, he’d know he’d be waiting quite a while,” she said.

Australia Post also declared Ms Holgate’s personal corporate credit card bill for the past financial year totalled $29,298, which was used for gifts, meals and travel expenses among other expenses. But a second card issued for Ms Holgate’s office, which employs two people, totalled $287,063.44 for the same timeframe.


It said providing an itemised breakdown of the charges would be an “unreasonable diversion of resources” but purchases broadly included flowers, gifts, meals, travel, venue hire, magazines and professional services.

“Australia Post’s Melbourne headquarters have been closed for several months, due to the COVID-19 lockdown in metropolitan Melbourne,” it said.

“As a result, Melbourne office staff have been working remotely and access to some records has been restricted. This has impacted on the retrieval and review of records.”

The organisation also admitted Ms Holgate used a chauffeur-driven car service for work-related transport including between the office, the airport, accommodation, meeting locations and home.


“These services allow [Ms Holgate] … to travel safely and securely – often at early or late hours – and provide a confidential environment in which to work on Australia Post matters while in transit,” it said.

Ms Holgate and her senior legal counsel were lashed by a bipartisan parliamentary committee in August for attempting to avoid scrutiny over the future of service delivery and urged to complete basic training in accountability to meet their responsibilities to taxpayers.

A damning report found some responses provided by Australia Post to senators’ questions failed to grasp the responsibility of a publicly owned entity to be accountable to “the people of Australia through the Parliament and its committee system”.

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Recorded drug offences rise by a third during lockdown as dealers make ‘risky’ home deliveries | UK News

Recorded drug offences in England and Wales have risen by nearly a third during lockdown, figures suggest.

Data obtained by PA news agency shows thousands more crimes linked to illegal substances were recorded by police between 23 March and 25 May compared to the same period last year.

The Metropolitan Police has said some drug dealers have started providing home deliveries during lockdown, which has made them more vulnerable to getting caught.

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Police want help with drug gangs

A previous report by Sky News found many street dealers had stopped selling drugs because police were checking more vehicles on the roads while “stay at home” advice was in place.

The 26 forces who provided data recorded a total of 25,297 drugs offences, including trafficking and possession, in the nine-week period. Between the same dates last year, 19,840 drug-related offences were recorded.

A total of 23,113 drug crimes were recorded between 20 January and 23 March this year.

The figures are despite total recorded crime dropping by a quarter in the four-week period to 10 May, according to the latest national figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said: “We know some of the drug dealers, both in county lines and beyond, have adapted the way they operate. They have had to.

“There has certainly been talk of more home deliveries to people’s houses by those who are brave. That’s certainly what my local officers are telling me, that they are seeing more of that.

“People who aren’t going out are asking for the drugs to come to them. That’s putting the drug dealers more at risk and making them more obvious.”

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Some dealers have been using creative ways to disguise themselves, including wearing hi-vis clothing and operating from supermarket car parks to appear like key workers, according to National Crime Agency director Lynne Owens.

Gangs expert Professor Simon Harding also said some were dressing as joggers and using fake NHS ID badges to move around freely.

Between 16 March and 20 May, Scotland Yard made 800 more drug arrests compared with the same period last year (1,431 to 2,232).

Officers also seized £22.4m worth of cash through freezing orders and confiscations – all thought to be linked to drug crime.

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Mother’s Day deliveries have kept farm businesses afloat during coronavirus restrictions

While a Mother’s Day lunch at a winery is off the cards for mum this year, thanks to innovative producers across north-west Tasmania it has never been easier to get a gift delivered to her door.

Mother’s Day at Ghost Rock Vineyard is usually one of the busiest days of the year.

“We would be flat out,” said director Alicia Peardon.

This year she has been delivering the fun to mothers around Tasmania with hampers filled with her own wine and local produce like honey and preserves.

The switch to deliveries has allowed the vineyard to keep a full-time employee on the books and some cash flowing through the business.

It is a similar story across the coast with producers reliant on restaurants, farmers markets, and festivals having to hit the road to stay afloat.

Mount Gnomon Farm lost all revenue streams when the coronavirus restrictions came into place.(ABC Rural: Hugh Hogan)

“Pretty much overnight we lost 100 per cent of our business,” said Mount Gnomon Farm free-range pig farmer Guy Robertson.

The truck that he would usually take to farmers markets and large events like Dark Mofo is now travelling to some of the most remote parts of Tasmania.

“The community support has been fantastic. I think we’ve delivered to over 700 families around Tasmania,” he said.

But with no prospect of large events on the horizon he was worried about the months ahead.

A man stands in front of some colourful pictures of tulips.
The Table Cape Tulip Farm has been sending flower bulbs in the mail for decades and has now never been busier.(ABC Rural: Hugh Hogan)

David Roberts-Thomson’s family has been sending tulip bulbs in the mail for over 30 years.

But after launching their first Mother’s Day pack, that part of their business is up 30 per cent.

“A lot of people are detached from their mums at the moment. They can’t go and see them.”

A basket full of tulip bulbs.
Tulip bulbs have been posted all over Australia because people can’t see their loved ones in person.(ABC Rural: Hugh Hogan)

The deliveries have kept businesses going. But with a big reliance on events, Alicia Peardon said she was concerned about the months ahead.

“When the restrictions lift it is going to be as tough as being in it,” she said.

“You will have all costs of operating, but you will not be able to have your venue at full capacity.”

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French court upholds order limiting Amazon deliveries amid coronavirus risk – POLITICO

Amazon had temporarily closed its warehouses in France in response to the original ruling | Philippe Lopez/AFP via Getty Images

Online shopping giant says it is ‘perplexed’ by the outcome.



PARIS — A French court upheld a ruling Friday restricting Amazon deliveries to essential products only until a risk assessment is carried out, but reduced fines for breaches and extended the list of products that can be delivered.

“The court of appeal confirms [the April 14 ruling] that requires Amazon France Logistique to carry out, in association with representatives of workers, an evaluation of professional risks linked to the COVID-19 epidemic in all its warehouses,” the Versailles court of appeal said in a statement.

Amazon has temporarily closed its warehouses in France in response to the original ruling, arguing the order was too ambiguous.

An Amazon spokesperson said the company remains “perplexed” by the result of the appeal. “We are working rapidly to evaluate the implications for our sites, as well as for our French employees, French customers and for the French SMEs who rely on Amazon to grow their businesses.”

The case pits the e-commerce giant against French unions SUD Solidaires. In mid-April, a lower court found that Amazon “disregarded its obligation of safety and prevention of health [risks] toward its employees” and ordered the company to restrict deliveries to essential items such as food and medical supplies until a risk assessment was completed.

The Friday ruling confirms the findings of the lower court and orders Amazon to restrict its activity in the next 48 hours until a risk assessment of health and safety measures is carried out.

However, the court of appeal extended the list of allowed items to include, among other things, high tech and IT goods. The court also significantly reduced the fines in case of non compliance from €1 million to €100,000 per unauthorized item “received, prepared and/or shipped.”

Melissa Heikkilä contributed reporting. 

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