Built on milk
Recognised as a trusted supplier in northern England, Hanover Dairies preserves the tradition of doorstep milk delivery, thanks to its large network of franchisees and independent milkmen
Speaking with Hanover Dairies’ Managing Director, Tony Baldwin, left us with the feeling that we have been privileged to peer behind the façade of a business that maintains an activity lots of people might have nearly forgotten about, but which is still there, and still going reasonably strong. The doorstep milk delivery has been the specialism of Hanover Dairies for over 40 years, and everyone at the family-owned company is just as passionate about serving the local community today, as they were in 1976 when owner Trevor Hanover started the business with just one milk round.
From its head office based in Blaydon, Tyne and Wear, Hanover Dairies first became a renowned local business in the North East with depots in Newcastle, Sunderland, and Middlesbrough, before subsequently expanding in the North West approximately nine years ago, which coincided with Tony’s stepping in as Managing Director. He remembers: “Since we grew into the North West, we have got 30 per cent of our business there. We have depots in Blackpool, Preston, and Atherton, as well as one in Scotland, where we began trading seven years ago. I think the business has doubled in size in the last decade.”
As the company grew in number of milk rounds, a franchise model was created by the owner. “It has worked for us, because we give our franchisees the support and the freedom to do their job. We look after them as if they owned the business, and we always try to incentivise them. Every business comes to be different, everyone has different needs, and we try to cater for them all. However, the franchise model is just 50 per cent of the business, the other half is composed of independent milkmen,” Tony clarifies.
“The strongest clientele for us is the amazing loyalty shown by our doorstep customers that represent 70 per cent of our business and is the area in which we invest the most. The public is not always aware that there is a milkman in the neighbourhood, and that they can benefit from the service they provide, but we work hard to get that message out there.
“The milkman does not just deliver milk in all weather conditions he is also part of the community in the local area. He is the eyes and the ears of the neighbourhood in the early hours, and he takes the responsibility to serve the residents. This was highlighted in the recent server weather conditions when ‘the beast from the east’ caused havoc in the northeast; our milkmen still braved the weather and worked tirelessly to complete all deliveries when most of the big supermarkets ran dry. One of the reasons why we keep succeeding is because we are passionate about the service we deliver, and we insist on going the extra mile to help the customers and accommodate all of their needs,” Tony enthuses, sharing with us the backbone of Hanover Dairies’ philosophy.
“Along with caring for its customers, the company aims to do the same for its franchisees and independent milkmen, making them feel secure. “It happens that a milkman gets ill and cannot go out in the morning, but our smooth back-up structure ensures that there will always be someone who will deliver the milk. We are one of the few UK companies that has embedded a scheme like this. Similarly, we have spare vans in our depots, so if one breaks down, we can replace it easily. Effectively, the customer is the end beneficiary of these procedures, because they will get their delivery on time,” Tony maintains. He also emphasises the company’s commitment to generate more business for local suppliers: “We always buy from local processors and then supply to local customers. This helps us create valuable relationships and marks our presence in the community.”
This article started with us marvelling at the passion of Hanover Dairies’ management team, employees andmilkmen to keep the beautiful traditionof doorstep delivery in local communities alive. However, there is another side of the company’s activities that made particularly strong impression on us, and this is the vast amount of charity work it has been doing for the last ten years. Hanover Dairies has become an active partner of Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity, an organisation that provides emotional and practical support to families whose child has a life-threatening or terminal illness, and this is all thanks to the complete devotion of Trevor Hanover and his willingness to give something back to the community. “Trevor wanted to get involved personally and every year he does something different for them. For example, in 2008, he walked the highlands and lowlands of Scotland, from Glasgow all the way up to Inverness, to raise awareness of the cause, and in November 2017, we held our fourth charity fundraising ball, at which we raised the unbelievable amount of £51,000 for the organisation.”
In 2017, Hanover Dairies organised another remarkable initiative when it took four Rainbow Trust families, each for one week, to the Center Parcs at Whinfell Forest Cumbria, where they enjoyed a holiday together. “This year,” Tony reveals, “we aim to increase the number of families to eight. The experience we had last year humbled and inspired us to continue with our charity work, and always look for developing new concepts for noble initiatives.”
When serious illness affects a child, family life is turned upside down and time becomes more precious than ever. Rainbow Trust pairs each family with a dedicated expert Family Support Worker to help them face and make the most of each new day.
Finally, Tony mentions one of the objectives the company will pursue this year. It is related to the reduction of plastic waste, which, according to him, has been neglected, whilst growing to threatening levels. “We need to know better how much waste could be recycled, instead of tipped into the ocean. Twenty-five per cent of our milk comes in traditional glass bottles and we want to encourage more people to reduce their usage of plastic packaging, and turn to a reusable material like glass. We are preparing a few adverts to popularise a campaign, called ‘Back In Glass’, and this will be a major focus for us this year.” We think Tony sums up the issue in this simple statement. “I can not believe that intelligent, responsible people deliberately throw plastic into the worlds oceans. So, where does it all come from? Its time for our governments and world leaders to be held accountable not only to answer this pressing question but implement solutions to resolve it.”