A rural retailer from the East Sussex village of Bells Yew Green is hoping to make a million with the help of a new mobile arm to his convenience business.

Using his 650sq ft store as a base, retailer Peter Lamb has started to run a successful mobile shop, which visits each of the three neighbouring villages of Cowden, Hadlow Down and Five Ashes four days a week.

The striking refrigerated van stocks a wide range of daily essentials, but specific items such as Cook ready meals or specific cuts of meat or fish from local suppliers can also be ordered over the phone for collection.

The service has become something of a lifeline for many elderly residents of the small rural villages which have lost their shops over the years, Peter told Convenience Store.

“People know the day and time that the van will be at their village so they come to it knowing exactly what they need. It compresses people’s buying behaviour and we regularly take more than £200 in just 20 minutes,” he says.

“Having the van allows us to expand the store’s reach without any overheads. It’s a formula that we know works and the goal now is to replicate it several times.”

Peter plans to have a second van running by June which will allow him to start visiting 10 villages a day, and ultimately aims to have a fleet of vans visiting 15 villages within a 30-mile radius of the store each day.

He’s also recently launched a new pre-paid collection service for busy rail commuters. The service allows shoppers to order goods via the website before collecting their items from the van which parks up at Eridge Station in the evenings. If sucessful, Peter hopes to roll this service out to many other stations.

“If things progress as I plan, I’m pretty confident that the mobile side could become a £1m business in its own right,” Peter adds.  

“We’ve got a long way to go yet, but we’re definitely on the right track.”