Rival supermarket chains could soon be receiving deliveries from the same vehicles - if a radical lorry-sharing trial works.
It has emerged that retailers are already clubbing together to find ways of easing city centre congestion and slashing their distribution costs.
If successful, the scheme, which is taking place in various cities, could encourage other food retailers to piggy-back on the same deliveries.
Somerfield logistics and IT director Martin Oakes, who is co-chair of the ECR group
that is co-ordinating the project, said it was too early to release results.
He added: “This initiative will take vehicles off roads and reduce city centre congestion. Currently retailers A, B and C all on the same high street all have their own vehicles and their own delivery schedules. Our aim is to deliver down that street in one vehicle at one time.”
Oakes added: “There is currently a great debate going on about food miles and a group of retailers and manufacturers have been working on delivery cycles, where transport is shared to create less congestion, lower costs and fewer food miles.”
A spokeswoman for Sainsbury confirmed that the supermarket chain was one of those involved in the project.
“We have been in contact with ECR to scope this project out and we would always support other retailers and link up with them if it makes good business sense.”
Oakes added: “We are determined that the work of ECR is applied in business and is not just a theoretical exercise.”
Asda, Tesco, Waitrose and The Co-operative are also involved in ECR UK, which was formed 10 years ago to create a more efficient supply chain.
A spokesman for the Freight Transport Association said that such a scheme could be viable but may prove too costly.
He added: “You would need to have a very intelligent system to enable the planning of deliveries and vehicles to get the goods to each supermarket when needed.
“Exel has already been running a consolidation trial in Bristol and we are waiting for these results to come through.”
The Bristol project, which is separate to ECR’s trial, is among a growing number of trials nationwide aimed at exploring ways to cut traffic.
Fiona McLelland