Rapid grocery delivery firms set new retail trend

In a railway arch in south London a team of packers are in a race against time.

They need to get fresh food to the door of Alastair Dean within 15 minutes of his order hitting an app.

The staff at Weezy are part of growing number of rapid grocery delivery firms.

Billions of dollars of venture capital from Europe, the U.S., China and Japan are backing it and similar firms.

Their arrival hints that demand for convenience could drive the next transformation in food retail.

Big supermarkets in Britain currently supply 95% of the country's groceries.

For shopper Dean, Weezy enables the 32-year-old finance worker to select locally produced goods:

"I live with my girlfriend, we are both working relatively full-time and busy on our laptops so, you know Weezy fits quite nicely into that, where we don't have, you know, an hour to do a big weekly shop."

Weezy stores goods from major suppliers and local producers in so-called dark stores in town.

It aims to supply customers within 15 minutes of an order, at prices similar to supermarkets.

Co-founder Alec Dent says it has advantages over big stores:

"Ultimately a delivery-only or delivery first approach allows you to be much faster towards the customer, allows you to provide a better service because you control exactly the stock, which means you never have substitutes in the orders and this is a big peeved point for customers."

But Weezy faces a host of competitors besides the big supermarkets, including Uber and Deliveroo.

Natalie Berg is an analyst from NBK Retail:

"The big challenge that they're facing is around profitability and I think in order for this model to be viable they need scale and there are a lot of horses in this race at the moment, so I think when we look to the future we are certainly going to see some consolidation and these rapid delivery providers might even be a good acquisition target for some of the big supermarkets."

Weezy said orders had jumped since Britain started to unlock restrictions and social lives got busier.

Adding that once shoppers know they know they can rely on a 15-minute delivery, anything longer seems too slow.