When Southern Co-op made the decision to order a brand-new Polaris hearse, the team already knew it was a first for the UK funeral industry. What co-operative funeral colleagues didn’t know is quite how unique the process would become – from flying out to the Pilato factory to see their car in build, to signing the inside of the vehicle and installing a personalised plaque inside the bonnet.
Southern Co-op is a regional, independent co-operative with more than 50 funeral branches across the south of England. Matt Turner from Southern Co-op told us about the process of becoming a Polaris owner.
“Some of our existing fleet were coming to the end of their life cycle with us,” he said, “and we were looking at the various options available in the market. We operate across a large and busy region, and our vehicles need to be reliable. But we also like our ceremonial vehicles to look the part – stylish and different, without losing any of the tradition and etiquette.”
Wow-Factor Hearse With Design Style
“We really needed a high end hearse that would wow our clients, and be in keeping with the high end service we are known for. Once I saw the Polaris, I knew it was exactly what we wanted. The latest Mercedes, with the design style of Pilato, created the perfect match for our company.”
After contacting Superior UK (official partners and distributors of Pilato to the UK), Matt felt even more certain that the Polaris was the right decision.
“We were captivated by the Pilato Polaris. It has such a modern and stunning design that we knew we wanted it as an eye-catching part of our fleet.”
Kevin Smith from Superior UK visited Southern Co-op to talk to Matt and his colleague Claire McGinty about the Polaris hearse, helping Matt and Claire design their perfect spec and finish.
“We have a very close working relationship with Pilato,” explained Kevin. “I visit the Pilato factory several times a year, and I know these cars inside out. That level of knowledge means I can help our customers make decisions almost as if their vehicle was in front of us.”
Before long, the vehicle would in fact be in front of them, when Matt and Claire received a surprise invitation to see their Polaris being built at the Pilato factory in Italy.
Seeing Their Vehicle During The Build Process
“We have never had the opportunity to see one of our hearses mid production,” said Matt, “so we jumped at the opportunity to head out to the factory. Being able to see the hearse – plus others that were further down the line – helped us visualise the end result far better than a picture ever could. We spent time talking with the Pilato team working on our hearse to explain our vision. It was an amazing experience.”
Matt and Claire were even able to personalise some of the design, as Kevin from Superior UK explained.
“During their visit to the Pilato factory, Claire and Matt secretly signed the inside of the hearse during the build process,” he said, “and we installed a little plaque under the bonnet dedicating the vehicle to its new owner.”
Adding A Personal Touch
“It was so nice to be able to add a personal touch to the hearse by writing a little message inside,” said Matt. “We knew our team would find and read it when we took delivery – a really special touch.”
The finished vehicle was finished in Mercedes Tenorite grey metallic. The interior has lots of LED lighting, grey laminate decking, a black leather interior trim and white quilted stitching. Pilato installed some custom perspex window trims which allow for the discrete display of illuminated name plates.
Southern Co-op was the first to order a Polaris hearse, and the first to take delivery in the South of England.
“It’s great to get our hands on this amazing car,” said Matt. “It is everything that we had hoped it would be. Working with Superior and Pilato has been great. We really value the close relationship we have built up with Superior over the years, and look forward to continuing this for many years to come.”
Southern Co-op is a regional, independent co-operative owned by its 140,000+ members. As well as food and funeral branches, it also runs two crematoria and a natural burial ground which reaffirm the co-operative’s sustainable business approach and commitment to providing a fair, fresh approach for all.
First UK Polaris Hearse Is Hand-Signed During Build By Southern Co-op is a blog from Superior UK. The main Superior UK website is here.