M6toll 15 faces – Neil Cottam, General Manager, Ocado
By: Nisha Deans
4th January 2019
As the M6toll celebrates 15 years of stress-free, congestion-less motoring, we’ve been speaking to the faces behind the wheels; those business commuters and individuals who rely on the M6toll to reach their destination ‘on time, every time’.
We nipped out of the office and grabbed some time with Neil, who heads up delivery for Ocado, the nation’s favourite online supermarket (a gong it’s won seven year on the spin). Based out of Dordon, it couldn’t be better placed to make full use of the M6toll, and in 2017 it was clocking up nearly 1,500 trips a month on our motorway.
Hi Neil, thanks for speaking to us. How long has Ocado been using the M6toll?
We started using the road in 2005 when our Manchester distribution centre opened – we used the road as a connector for our Manchester to Hatfield deliveries. Then we opened our location in Dordon, near Tamworth, and we couldn’t really be closer to the road.
Why did your business first decide to start using the M6toll?
Our business is hugely time critical. Like most in our sector, we work to the ‘just-in-time’ business model, so with the M6toll being much quicker and substantially more reliable than the M6, it’s very attractive to logistics businesses. We need to get our deliveries made on time, and the toll road ensures this happens.
How often do your team use the M6toll?
With us only closing two days a year, we use it multiple times, every single day. Every journey coming out of Dordon will use the M6toll.
What do you think the best thing about using the road is?
The obvious answers are the lack of congestion along the route, and the huge daily time savings. But for us, the key factor is the reliability. It gives us a certainty around making time critical deliveries that no other road can offer.
Can you think of an occasion in your 12 years as an M6toll motorist when we’ve saved the day?
Every delivery is key and important to Ocado, so the M6toll saves the day, every day. The M6 is generally known as the worst road in the UK, and for us to get off to a good start on the M6toll is vital. Any incidents or traffic further up on the M6 are then mitigated by the time saving on the M6toll – for these reasons, we would never not use it.
What were your challenges as a business before the M6toll?
We’ve always used it – right from the beginning! But sometimes we’ve had to use the other roads for one reason or another and it is never a great experience.
What would be the effects to your business if you stopped using the M6toll?
It would be negative all round! We would have to build more time into trunking our vehicles, which would hit the overall sales of our business as they would have to alter the cut-off time for ordering.
Could you offer some advice to businesses who are weighing up whether to use the road?
Give it a try, it’s horses for courses, but if you are a time critical business where cost is a secondary concern, then it’s a no brainer.
What are your drivers’ opinions on the M6toll versus the other roads in the area? Do they see the benefits which you see as a business?
Even though our drivers have always used our road, they appreciate the benefits as much as we do. In fact, if we ever stopped using the road, they would think we’ve gone mad!