When our home delivery colleagues Ashlene Moran and Alex Thompson arrive at our customers’ homes in the north-west of Scotland they’re often the first people they’ve seen in weeks.
Many of them live on their own in some of the most isolated parts of the country – and Ashlene said: “They really appreciate seeing a friendly face and the chance for a wee blether as they mightn’t have had anyone visiting for a while.”
Alex, who’s 63, drives through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country as he delivers to customers in areas like Glencoe, the Isle of Skye and the Cairngorms. He’s taken some fantastic pictures en route showing everything from sunny lochside views to narrow roads through snow-covered mountains.
Ashlene, 23, who’s worked at our Inverness store for five years, has recently joined the home delivery team and teamed up with Alex for training on his regular round.
Alex, who joined Asda in 2014, said: "Customers are always very grateful. Most of them live in small settlements of around 10 to 15 houses. I would say around 15% of my customers go weeks on end without seeing anyone until I turn up. There are quite often customers who need the delivery taken into their house and unpacked for them due to their frailty or ill health.
“In the tourist season local people rely heavily on Asda as the tourists buy everything before they get to the shops!
“All the places I’m lucky enough to visit are very beautiful. I was once stopped by a man on holiday in a camper van on the way to Skye. I thought he was going to ask where the nearest store was, but he wanted to know if I would call him when I retired – he wanted my job! He couldn’t believe this was my workspace.
“My delivery area is from Glencoe in the south west, up to Ullapool in the north west and back to Inverness. The Tain store covers down to Dingwall and we meet the Elgin store at Auldnairn, so every day colleagues are all over the wilderness that is the Highlands.
“We cover such a wide area you can drive for an hour and a half before you make your first delivery.
“My most remote delivery is to a customer at Kinloch Hourn. To get there I drive 22 miles there and 22 miles back all on a single track road.
“Only 25% of my delivery area has phone coverage. I sometimes say it’s like being on the moon because you are so out of contact!
“None of this would be possible without the whole home shopping team. We have great colleagues working very hard to get the correct goods to the correct customers.”
After her first trip out with Alex, Ashlene said: "We had set off quite early and were ahead of schedule so Alex said he would take me to this viewing point near Loch Duich and Loch Alsh which I’d never been to before. It was absolutely beautiful.
“I don’t think people realise how rural some of the places we deliver to are. The customers are always really grateful for their groceries. They really appreciate seeing a friendly face and the chance for a wee blether as they mightn’t have had anyone visiting for a while.
"They welcome you in with a smile because they're so happy to see someone. It was mostly small talk - they were asking about our route, where we had been that day and where we were heading next. They get to know the regular drivers and a couple of them said it was nice to see me - a new face!
“We did seven deliveries that day, mostly to isolated farmhouses. The scenery was just stunning all the way. There were still lots of challenges though, a lot of the roads were single track which were not really designed for a delivery van to go down.
“There were a lot of sheep on the roads too, you just have to slow down and then calmly overtake them!”