This brand led the trend in doorstep delivery (100 years ago...)

If you thought that home-delivery-only brands were a relatively new phenomenon, think again. Whilst the global pandemic has fuelled the rise of brands and shops that deliver directly to consumers without the presence of a physical store, this is by no means a new trend. In fact, this approach to selling has been around for decades, and indeed centuries.

The story of Ringtons

Take Ringtons, an English family business from Newcastle upon Tyne that has been delivering its packaged teas and coffees directly to its customers for over 110 years. The business was founded in 1907 by Samuel Smith, who used a small investment of £250 to start selling tea from a horse and cart in Newcastle. Travelling around town, he brought his products – neatly presented in reed baskets – directly to customers. People loved this convenience and within a year Samuel needed another horse and four assistants to keep up with demand.

As time went on, the business grew and modernised, and so did its fleet. In the 1920s, Ringtons purchased two motorised vehicles, whilst also continuing to deliver its good by horse and cart. In the decades to follow, its fleet grew to include more than 200 small vans. By 1954, all but one of Ringtons doorstep delivery rounds were made by van.

Home delivery business by horse and cart

Some things just don't change...

Since those early days in 1907, the business has passed on from father to son. Currently run by the fourth generation of the family, Ringtons continues to deliver door-to-door in Newcastle and beyond. And whilst much has changed over the years, some things haven’t. Ringtons’ horse and cart are still a familiar sight, though these days on its logo and packaging rather than on the streets. Its distinctive vans continue to roam the streets of Newcastle, whilst its smart tradespeople still carry around Ringtons’ goods in the iconic baskets.

And so, 110 years on Ringtons continues to mix tradition with the convenience of modern-day home delivery.

Ringtons traditional tea caddy with tea bags          Rington trades person with reed basket

Images credit: Ringtons and The Hyper Localist