A food delivery service set up to support the local community in Aberystwyth has been named a Small Business of 2020 by Lloyds Bank after proving invaluable to its customers during the pandemic.
Racoono was set up by Rob Groocock, Elinor Evans and Meleri Evans after they realised local people who were stuck at home during lockdown were struggling to get essential deliveries.
Despite working full time for their other professions, they decided to start a delivery service for the community, initially with a range of just four products and a borrowed van.
But word quickly spread and Racoono now has more than 250 regular customers and stocks more than 160 different products, from bananas to freshly-baked bread.
And the pandemic didn’t just inspire the trio to start their business, it also inspired the name – Racoono is (nearly) an anagram of ‘No Corona’.
Now Racoono has been named a winner in the Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2020 awards, in recognition of how creatively and quickly they adapted to the challenges of 2020, and how they went over and above expectations.
One customer, who nominated Racoono for the Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2020 award, said: “It gives me faith in humanity. The three founders are local people who, in true Welsh spirit, are humble and would never even look for recognition.”
Their prize is a business mentoring session to help them develop their growth plans. The Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2020 competition celebrates the small and local businesses across the UK and their inspiring energy and resilience in meeting the challenges of 2020.
Almost 900 businesses up and down the country were nominated by their local communities and 24 winners were picked based on how creatively and quickly they adapted to events since March, and how they went over and above expectations.
Rob said: “When lockdown started, people in the area who couldn’t get out were struggling to get essentials delivered because the supermarkets couldn’t keep up with demand.
“We realised there was an opportunity to help, so we spoke to some local suppliers we knew, borrowed a van and used Facebook to get the word out. After just one post, interest exploded.
“We only had four products – two veg boxes and two fruit boxes – but we’ve grown the range since based on what our customers tell us they need. We’re working with local suppliers, who are happy to have a new place to sell their produce with so many other outlets closed.
“We thought we would only be doing this for a few weeks to provide a temporary service during lockdown, but one year on, we are still getting busier!”
The team have now invested in their own van and operate out of a warehouse in Aberystwyth, with plans to grow their range of products further and serve a wider area. They serve a valuable social service to the community and make an effort to know all their customers by name and always stop to say hello when out on delivery.
Gareth Oakley, Managing Director of Business Banking at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “The team at Racoono set out to support their community through tough times and have created a successful business with great growth potential.
“Not only are they providing an invaluable service to their customers, they are also supporting local producers too.
“They have turned a challenge into an opportunity and are truly deserving of this award.”