A FAMILY business from the Wee County, which recently marked a decade of operations, is aiming to roll out the future of Scottish vending and retail.

Alloa-based SV24-7 Vending is taking forward the so-called micromarket concept in Scotland as hybrid working models decreased the viability of larger scale office catering services.

Tied closely to the vending machine industry, micromarkets use automated self-checkout technology, offering grab-and-go goods in unattended retail environments.

The idea is similar to nipping into a supermarket for a meal deal during lunch and getting through the self-checkout, but within the workplace.

With hybrid working models becoming the norm, the solution could be ideal for places that used to rely on larger scale catering services before the pandemic.

SV24-7 director Fiona Chambers, who started the business with her husband Ian in a small unit on Ward Street in the town, spoke to the Advertiser following a family fun day, which brought the company together to mark its 10th anniversary.

She said: “We are not taking our eye off vending, there's always going to be a place for that, but there's a new concept that's come over from the [United] States.

“We looked at it about four or five years ago and thought the market is not quite ready for it yet.

“It's completely ready for it now.”

SV24-7, one of the few vending businesses that offers fresh food at its machines, has already secured a few sites for its micromarkets.

Fiona added: “Because of Covid there's a new opportunity being created.

“We are one of the very first companies to roll it out in Scotland and we've done it on quite a big scale.”

Micromarkets are scalable to customers' needs and Fiona concluded: “This is a really exciting time.

“I almost feel now as if our business is now at where vending was at 30 years ago, I just think this is going to go boom.”

The business comes from humble beginnings but the duo quickly managed to scale up the vending machine company.

A decade on, SV24-7 employs 18 people at its Cooperage Way base with expansion set to continue.

Looking back at the past 10 years, Fiona fondly remembers the numerous awards the business received, including a Success Through Sustainability award, Business of the Year 2019 at the Clacks Business Awards or the Excellence in Customer Service award from Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Most recently, just last week, SV24-7 was also awarded with a bronze from the Armed Forces Defence Employer Recognition Scheme and Fiona also highlighted various industry awards employees have received.

She added: “What's given us success is we know our business, we know our customers and we've got relationships with our customers – we are genuinely passionate about what we do.”

The fun day at the end of September, which followed a company meal at Bar Aldo's earlier in April when the 10 year milestone rolled around, brought employees together for a BBQ with a bouncy castle, face painting and a raffle which raised £600 for the inpatient wards at Clackmannanshire Community Healthcare Centre.

Speaking of the fun day, Fiona explained the business decided to donate to the community hospital in Clacks after it cared for a number of people related to its employees.

She said: “We just thought the community hospital did so much for everybody during Covid and that's quite a nice one to give back to.

“Maybe they can buy something everybody can benefit from.”

Fiona, a finalist in this year's Women's Enterprise Scotland Awards' Embracing Technology category, is also proud of the company's record during Covid.

The business continued to service food manufacturing sites and NHS Lothian while securing Scottish Enterprise funding to retrofit vending machines for contactless payments, becoming one of the first around to do so.

For a business from the Wee County, SV24-7 certainly punched above its weight when it was picked up as a case study in Scottish Parliament and later by the European Vending Association.

“We were on the world stage with Mastercard and Worldpay, our little business from Alloa telling all the big boys how to make contactless a success,” Fiona said.

Following on, the company also worked on a story with Tom Lamont, a freelancer for the Guardian and the Observer, to give an insight into the day in the life of a vending machine.

Having researched the journalist's work following an interview request, Fiona mused: “I said to Ian, my husband: 'maybe we should look at this, the last person he interviewed was George Clooney and I think if it's good enough for George it's should be good enough for us'.”