Fruit and vegetable wholesaler IA Harris hopes to convert all of its fleet to Mercedes Benz Sprinters by the end of the year.
The company, which was established in 1954, runs a fleet of 28 refrigerated vans from its base at London’s New Covent Garden Market. The first vehicles hit the road at 2am and make multi-drop deliveries to restaurants, hotels, pubs and schools across the South East.
Managing director Richard Harris said: “It’s a tough job. We work our vans very hard and in a typical day each could make as many as 30 drops; so that’s 60 door openings and sometimes more.”
IA Harris started buying approved used Mercedes Benz vans from South London dealer SG Smith a couple of years ago, after suffering repeated breakdowns and reliability issues from its previous vehicles.
Harris added: “We had engines blowing up and all sorts of silly niggles like door handles falling off.”
It has now replaced all but three of those former vans with pre-owned 3.5-tonne Sprinters. And having just ordered another three Long-bodied Sprinter 313 CDIs from SG Smith’s Sydenham dealership, it aims to be an all Mercedes-Benz operation by the end of this year.
“Buying pre-owned, low-mileage Sprinters makes great financial sense for us. We make a decent saving on the new purchase price and the vehicles are outstandingly reliable, as well as being popular with our drivers and loaded with safety features.
“Our Sprinters are always very nicely presented by the dealer and we know that once we’ve had them insulated and a fridge fitted, they’ll still give us a good three or four years’ use.
“The team at SG Smith are very helpful. They’ll always let me know if they have any suitable Sprinters coming up – these days we like to buy them at around a year old – and if any warranty work is required the vehicle goes straight back to the dealer and is quickly sorted.”
Every pre-owned Mercedes-Benz van retailed under the Used1 Approved Used Vans & Services banner is less than five years old, has had a full mechanical and cosmetic makeover, and is guaranteed for at least six months.
SG Smith sales manager Stephen Handyside said: “We always carry a stock of top-quality pre-owned vehicles. But if we don’t have the specific van that a customer is looking for, our links to the Used1 Approved Used Vans & Services Centre and to colleagues throughout the manufacturer’s national dealer network mean there’s every chance we’ll be able to find it.”