Director of Darcica’s Sustainability and Communications, Melanie Tattersall, tells us how the business started “We launched in July 2020. Our Managing Director, my husband Anthony, originally set the business up as a delivery service partner for Amazon. So that was delivering essential supplies and products to households during the pandemic. This is how we built on our experience and knowledge of the parcel-based logistics industry. We know that this sector is high impact and thought we could do it more sustainably. Both our backgrounds are in waste and environmental management, so bringing this together with over 20 years transport logistics experience, Darcica was born.”
Melanie continues “About a year ago we took on a 15,000 square foot warehouse in Bicester and started building up our vehicles, focusing on mainly electric. Electric is the future. Our main focus is People, Planet and the Future. We’ve also joined two large networks, Palletways and Diamond Logistics, who were already well established within the UK, to become a sustainable logistics hub for Oxfordshire.”
Melanie expresses the importance of family values and environment “We are very much a family business, the name Darcica actually came from our two daughters, Darcey and Jessica. Our aim was always to build a family business that cares for the environment.
We want to show that we, even as a small business, can make a positive impact in terms of the climate. We have a fleet of electric vehicles, we reduce waste where we can in all of our operations. We’ve also been working hard on innovation towards a zero emissions fleet. And looking at ways to reduce our impact in the fulfilment side of the business. Not using bubble wrap or plastic for our eCommerce customers and our warehouse racking is re-used, for example.
We like to work with like-minded companies who share our values, so those who want to grow their business without negatively impacting the environment. Our plastic free fulfilment service involves both packing and delivery of products, sustainably around the UK, whether that’s through our networks or locally using our electric vehicles. What we really want to be able to do is offer a one-stop shop, sustainable solution within Oxfordshire.”
"We decided to apply for the funding to get a pallet wrap machine. For a small business like ours it would’ve taken us a lot longer to get one of these machines, this grant has allowed to purchase one and made a huge difference to our business and productivity."
Melanie tells us of her experience working with OxLEP across the board with one-to-one support, events, webinars and grant funding. “It’s the first time we’ve run our own business so I was looking for local business networks we could join. I came across OxLEP and went onto their website and completed their business support tool. A fantastic tool to use as it guides you directly to the support you can get. It highlights all opportunities.
From there we joined a couple of their programmes, Innovation Support for Business where we had one-to-one support from an innovation advisor which helped us focus on our future vision over the next five to ten years. We also joined the eScalate programme which included the Women in Business event. It was great to be with other women who have the same challenges, juggling a home life with running a business. And, we also joined some more general business webinars which were really useful, helping your business grow and keeping up with the ever changing business landscape.
Another area we have got involved in is the Oxfordshire Sustainability Showcase, we joined a panel discussion and exhibited there. It’s great to meet like-minded businesses, all working together to make Oxfordshire a greener and more economical place.”
Not only did Darcica benefit greatly from OxLEP’s one-to-one support but they were also successful in being awarded a grant through the Business Investment Fund (BIF). Melanie tells us all about it “We were told about the BIF grant through one of OxLEP’s advisors. We decided to apply for the funding to get a pallet wrap machine. At the time our team were manually wrapping the pallets in black plastic. It would take ages to do, walking around with the wrap, so much so they got dizzy. These machines are brilliant, they can reduce the amount of plastic by four times because it stretches it. You can use clear material that can be recycled and it makes the process much more efficient by reducing the time to wrap a pallet by 80%. For a small business like ours it would’ve taken us a lot longer to get one of these machines, this grant has allowed to purchase one and made a huge difference to our business and productivity.”
Melanie continues by giving us an overview of her experience with OxLEP “The whole grant process was seamless, we had a webinar about the application, they explained what we needed to do and when we needed to do it. The team there were brilliant and always came back to you really quickly. It’s real support every step of the way.
It’s so good to have a sounding board available for businesses. I’d recommend anyone to take it up. If you want to be part of the community then connect with OxLEP, there’s a lot they offer which can raise the profile of your business. The online business support tool is the first stepping stone to get you involved. You’ll get so much back from that. And genuinely they’re a great bunch of people.
Melanie closes by telling us of the exciting next phase for Darcica “With OxLEP’s continued support we are going to keep scaling-up. Growing the fulfilment side of the business is a key focus. We want to work with more local businesses in terms of the supply chain. We want to embrace innovation. We want to take positive actions forward. We are already accredited with Mission Zero, and are now working on our Sustainability Action Plan – looking at the environmental, social, governance and economic aspects of all of our operations.
We’re also implementing our Social Action Plan so we can measure what we are doing in the community as well as our staff initiatives. And, if we continue to grow, we’ll be looking for a second site in Oxfordshire. So, all in all it looks to be an exciting future ahead for Darcica.”