EGG producers, John and Stuart Retson, had a 'light bulb' moment when they took a look at vending machines to direct sell their product seven years ago.

The upshot is that now, selling off the shelf and producing bespoke vending machines is a pretty large chunk of their working life – and that's on top of having 50,000-plus layers and a pullet rearing business. Stuart told The Scottish Farmer that the business, Vending by JSR, is now the largest provider of such machines in the UK.

They have proved especially popular with farm shops and he reckoned that there are more than 120 of them operational across the UK, serviced from their Blairgowrie HQ.

JSR is the UK distributor for Roesler locker vending machines, built in Germany, but also use technology from IT company, Innovend, to make bespoke machines.

"We specialise in and were the UK’s first supplier of locker vending machines, creating the concept of farm food vending," said Stuart.

"Our fresh food locker machines have been helping producers maximise profit and help build brands for more than six years. We have now taken Innovend’s market leading technology and the experience we have developed and integrated it with more conventional vending ideas to offer the complete automated retail solution.

"We are working with suppliers throughout Europe to deliver the best in payment systems. With Innovend’s technology we are also building bespoke machines for the IT, manufacturing and food retail industries.

"Every machine we do is designed and built to each customer's own needs and specifications. Because of this, we do not have a fixed price list as such.

"We will have a brief conversation about your needs then produce a computer sketch up of the machine and then can play around with the machine design until we find something that suits need and budget! We have built machines from as little as £9000 to more than £100,000."

Stuart added: "For those who produce their own produce, it's a no brainer for everything from eggs and milk, to vegetables, potatoes and even chilled meat products. The public love the concept and are buying into the idea that their staple foods are available 24/7.

"Operators like it because they can get the full retail value for their produce and the systems keep them abreast of what is selling best, even direct to their mobile phone."

He reckoned that for most machines a payback period of about two years was the norm, though in some set-ups with the right products and location, eight months is possible. The company also has a back up service agreement available.