Fast-growing Pets Corner supplies a huge range of products, including high-quality animal bedding – now its driver Frank Smeets can rest easy too, in the roof-mounted sleeper pod fitted to his new Mercedes-Benz truck.
The 18-tonne Axor 1824L also has an air-suspended rear axle which allows the chassis to be lowered, making it easier to load and unload.
Crawley-based Pets Corner purchased the Axor from local dealer Rossetts Commercials, which took back a six-year-old Atego 7.5-tonner in part-exchange. The retailer also operates a second 18-tonne Axor with full air management kit, which Rossetts supplied in 2008.
With its black paintwork and eye-catching livery, the new truck is certainly a head-turner. Essex Bodies, of Rayleigh, built its 28ft box and fitted the 1,500kg Ratcliff-Palfinger column tail-lift. The sleeper pod, meanwhile, is by cab conversion and aerodynamics specialist Hatcher Components, of Framlingham, Suffolk.
Pets Corner has 68 stores throughout central and southern England, the latest of which has just opened in the East Sussex town of Uckfield.
Although it also retails pets from some of these outlets, the company uses its two Mercedes-Benz trucks solely to transport feed and accessories. Until now the vehicles have left and returned to base on the same day with deliveries to its more distant stores, the most northerly of which is in Warrington, being assigned to third-party carriers.
But as Logistics Manager Sue Sayers explained: "The continued expansion of our business has prompted a re-think, as a result of which we are now covering a wider area and at least four more stores ourselves.
"That’s going to entail occasional nights out for Frank. And because we wanted to maximise the new truck’s carrying capacity – it will take 16 pallets – we decided to specify the sleeper pod rather than a deeper cab with a bunk."
Pets Corner is a family-run business that was founded in 1968, when the grandparents of current Managing Director Dean Richmond opened their first, small pet shop in Haywards Heath.
The company has built a strong team of experts in animal care, nutrition and husbandry, and prides itself on the quality of its products, which it endeavours wherever possible to source from UK suppliers.
Ms Sayers continued: "We’re also a very environmentally responsible company and use our vehicles to collect and bring back from our stores cardboard, paper, plastics and bottles for recycling.
"So the fact that as well as offering the reliability and driver comfort we’ve come to expect from Mercedes-Benz, our new Axor is also exceptionally fuel-efficient and clean in terms of its emissions is also key to its appeal."
The truck is the subject of a five-year Mercedes-Benz Repair and Maintenance Contract. "We have an excellent relationship with the service team at Rossetts Commercials, who support us very well," she added. "On the rare occasion that we’ve had an issue the dealer has come out to us and resolved it very quickly."