A third Mercedes-Benz delivery van is helping Belfast-based Kirks Home Bakery rise to the challenge of adapting to the fast-changing business landscape.

Supplied by MBNI Truck & Van, the Sprinter 314 CDI is powered by a fuel-efficient 143 hp engine that drives the rear wheels – the same model is also available with front-wheel drive. It has a long L3 body and high H2 roof.

The new van is now working alongside Kirks Home Bakery’s two previous Sprinters, which arrived via the same Retailer. All are delivering freshly baked bread, rolls, scones, cakes and other tasty treats six days per week to customers based in and around the city.

“We’ve had five Sprinters in succession now, but never more than two at a time,” revealed John Kirk, a Director of the family firm founded by his parents Robert and Sonya more than 25 years ago. “Rising demand for our products, however, persuaded us to set a third on the road.”

The vans supply Kirks’ two own-brand shops – one in central Belfast, the other in Ballyhackamore – as well as a host of independent outlets, including cafes and deli bars, across the city.

“During lockdown and in the period immediately thereafter the cafe trade reduced significantly, but our shop business really took off,” said Mr Kirk. “Now turnover is picking up again for cafes, while demand for our products sold over the counter has remained very high.”

Kirks runs one other smaller van, while Robert Kirk drives a Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup, but the Sprinters make the majority of its deliveries.

“Many years ago we had some vans by another supplier, but as the business grew we needed better reliability and a higher level of back-up,” said John Kirk. “We found both by switching to Mercedes-Benz and MBNI Truck & Van.

“Our Sprinters endure a tough life, leaving our factory on the Shankill at around 3.30am and making up to 80 drops per day. They stand up to the punishment extremely well, and are very cost-effective to operate – over a 200,000-mile working life we experience little if any unplanned downtime.”

Like all new Mercedes-Benz vans supplied by members of the manufacturer’s official Retail network, Kirks Home Bakery’s latest Sprinter is backed by a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, and came with MobiloVan cover, which includes free, round-the-clock emergency roadside assistance.

“This comprehensive aftersales support underlines Mercedes-Benz Vans’ faith in the quality of its vehicles,” said Mr Kirk. “We’ve also developed a great professional relationship with MBNI Truck & Van. Our orders are always handled promptly and efficiently, and the workshop team do a fine job of servicing vehicles at times that suit our operating hours.”

He continued: “As well as a power-washable Rhino lining, we specified the new van with a seven-speed 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission and air-conditioning, to give driver Stephen Gartley, who has been with us for six years, a more comfortable working environment. The Sprinter looks great in our livery and with the strong brand image of Mercedes-Benz is an excellent mobile advertisement for our business.”

The third-generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a technological tour-de-force, thanks to its reassuring armoury of active safety features and 4G Internet connectivity.

Standard safety features include the autonomous Active Brake Assist system with pedestrian recognition technology, and ATTENTION ASSIST, which detects drowsiness in the driver and encourages them to take breaks when tired.

Sprinter drivers also benefit from the cutting-edge Mercedes MBUX infotainment system, which features a user-friendly voice control function when specified with optional Navigation, while Mercedes PRO connect provides operators with a range of fast, efficient and cost-effective vehicle management service packages.

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