West Midlands installer turned greengrocer to survive lockdown

Simon Newton, who runs his own plumbing and heating company, started carrying out fresh produce deliveries

Simon Newton

A plumbing and heating entrepreneur from Willenhall in the West Midlands swapped showers for cauliflowers and bath spouts for Brussels sprouts, as he diversified into delivering fresh produce and groceries, in order to stay afloat during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

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Simon Newton, who owns ACS Plumbing & Heating Ltd and DJN Plumbing Supplies, found himself unable to continue his usual routine of heating and bathroom installations in March, due to restrictions in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Newton, a long-standing Mira installer, took the bold decision to start selling a range of fruit, vegetables and groceries, recognising the need for this service, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable in his community who were shielding during the grip of the pandemic.

He said: ‘My attitude was I couldn’t just sit still throughout COVID – I had to support the staff and the customers that I look after – even if that meant 4am starts to get to the wholesale market!’

More than three months on, his unusual sideline has been such a big hit that Newton has won the contract to supply a local children’s nursery, started a special trailer service, taken on three extra staff and has plans to expand his plumbing supplies shop to include food refrigeration units.

Now able to resume his installation business, he’s continuing the food delivery service, which includes daily Facebook live videos where Simon outlines the fresh produce available for the day.

He commented: ‘It’s incredible how popular it’s proved to be – as well as providing a new revenue stream it’s also become a pipeline of new customers for the plumbing business.’

Paul McGuire, Installer Communications at Mira Showers added: ‘It’s fantastic to see the ingenuity in our industry, and more so when it’s someone you know personally – I used to work for Simon as a plumbing and heating engineer!

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‘Simon has shown real entrepreneurial spirit to diversify his business as he has, to maintain his revenue and to keep his staff in employment. In addition to that, Simon has provided a real lifeline to people in his local community and should be commended.’