Mr Delivery to spread wings

By Yunus Kemp Time of article published Mar 9, 2007

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Mr Delivery, the pioneer of multiple-restaurant delivery in South Africa, is looking at building the country's first "lifestyle database" which would enable consumers to, for example, purchase a pair of jeans from home, and have it delivered to their doorstep.

Laurence Levine, MD of Mr Delivery, said the company had a million customers on its database and it was looking at launching a bi-monthly life-style publication/catalogue that would be distributed to 30 000 of its most loyal customers, with an additional 10 000 copies distributed to its 61 branches across the country.

"People would, for example, be able to order a pair of Levi's jeans from home. We have chosen the top 20 retailers in the country and it is going to be very exclusive stuff. If you want to buy something for a friend or relative anywhere in the country, we will deliver it for you to their door," said Levine.

"Big brands have recognised us as a medium. But it's about convenience. We don't want to become another Pick 'n Pay or Woolworths. We just want to be the best home delivery company in the country."

The company was in the process of setting up a call centre in Johannesburg that would specifically cater for this new venture, which is expected to launch later in 2007.

Levine established Mr Delivery in Cape Town 15 years ago, in Sea Point, hoping to earn a meagre R3 000 per month. It's now a multi-million rand thriving business, with 14 outlets in the Western Cape.

Levine had been a driver for a pizza chain and had "always been entrepreneurial". At 23 he found himself unemployed.

He had heard of multiple restaurant delivery services abroad, but had no idea what they charged restaurants. "I literally walked the streets of Sea Point and I managed to sign 10 businesses after three months. Unfortunately, I had no yardstick. In the first year, I didn't make a profit. I charged restaurants 15 percent of the order placed; that is now 17,5 percent. Abroad that figure is between 30 percent to 35 percent," said Levine.

Now, the company employs about 1 000 drivers a day and delivers meals to about 150 000 homes nationally every month.

"In the next three years, we hope to up that to 250 000 a month. For big restaurant chains, our involvement with them has earned them in excess of R3-million in turnover."

Levine said he wanted to reward his long-term drivers in the Western Cape, so he purchased 54 new cars which a dairy manufacturer offered to brand to support the "milkman is back" initiative.

"It is our mission to constantly explore new avenues of products and services to add to the quality of life of our customers. What better way than to reinvent the milkman?" he said.

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