The UK’s leading supermarket trolley maintenance specialist runs its trucks for seven years and more – which explains why it was one of the first operators to check out a fuel-efficient Euro VI truck from Mercedes-Benz.
Dorset-based KJ Pike took delivery of its 4×2 New Actros 1851 tractor unit from the Poole branch of Dealer Pentagon Commercials in November 2012, a full 13 months before the latest round of EU emissions regulations came into force.
Financial Director Christian Pike explains: "Our trucks don’t cover high mileages, which is why we keep them for so long. We wanted, therefore, to protect ourselves against future emissions controls in London and other cities, while also maximising its potential resale value, by buying the cleanest, ‘greenest’ vehicle we could. At the time Mercedes-Benz was the only truck-maker offering a viable Euro VI product, which was good news because our other vehicles are all by the same manufacturer."
Plated for operated at 38 tonnes gcw, the New Actros has a range-topping GigaSpace cab and a state-of-the-art straight-six engine which transmits its 375 kW (510 hp) output via the latest Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated gearbox. It works with one of KJ Pike’s four Gray & Adams twin-deck trailers, each of which carries up to 720 supermarket trollies. The unit is serviced by Pentagon Commercials under a seven-year Mercedes-Benz Repair and Maintenance Contract.
"We were told the Euro VI vehicle would be economical to run and so it’s proved," continues Mr Pike. "Fuel figures vary according to the work but whereas our older tractors are in the 7-8 mpg range, the New Actros typically returns 8-9 mpg. What’s more, it hasn’t missed a beat since day one, while driver John Fry really appreciates the space, comfort and sophistication of his cab, as well as the fact that it’s such a great looking truck."
Family-owned KJ Pike operates from a 4.5-acre site in Pimperne, with over 75,000 sq ft of warehousing in which it can store 130,000 trollies. Working alongside Christian are his brother Duncan, the Managing Director, and sister Barbara, also a Director – their father Kenneth John Pike founded the business in 1975 and remains as Chairman.
The company repairs and refurbishes trollies for some of Britain’s biggest retailers. In addition to the Euro VI vehicle, it relies on two tractors from previous generations of Actros and a pair of Atego 7.5-tonners, to make store collections and deliveries – the rigids have dropside bodies by Wessex Vehicle Services, of Salisbury, and serve outlets in London with restricted access.
KJ Pike also runs 14 vans, every one of which wears a three-pointed star. Most are 3.5-tonne Sprinters converted to provide comfortable living accommodation, which are allocated to teams undertaking trolley maintenance at customer premises. However, three are from the Citan small van range launched last year and used by staff who visit stores to fit trolley-mounted advertisements.
"Just like our trucks, Mercedes-Benz vans are cost-effective to operate, reliable and last longer than the competitors’ vehicles we were using previously," adds Mr Pike.