Fruit and veg is being delivered straight from markets to c-stores as part of a trial by symbol group Simply Fresh.

Red Cherry, which usually supplies restaurants, now delivers from Birmingham Wholesale Market to five local stores four days a week.

“For our own stores, we’d be at the market three to four times a week but not every retailer has the resources to do that,” said Simply Fresh director Kash Khera. “That’s why we’ve sourced someone to do it for them.”

Stocking loose rather than packaged veg fitted with Simply Fresh’s ethos, Khera said, as well as exciting customers.

“There’s a fortune to be made at market through special deals. Places like Aldi and Lidi offer cheap fruit & veg and independents can too. Even if you do get waste, it’s alleviated by the margin.”

The move comes after Simply Fresh beat its fist year target of recruiting 25 stores last year. It now aims to hit 50 stores this year and 200 in five years. Khera said he would look to recruit Budgens retailers when they came to the end of their contracts. “I think the exibility of not being tied down to 95% of your buying through Budgens is quite a good draw,” he said. Simply Fresh requires retailers to order at least 200 cases per week, of which 100 should be chilled, and prefers 70% of a retailer’s orders to be made through Simply Fresh.

The group – which has a trading agreement with Costcutter – now has stores trading from Mansfield to Harlow, with further sites due to open in Liverpool, Newcastle and Kent within the next six months.