Tens of thousands of snacks and drinks have been saved from being wasted after Approved Food mounted a rescue mission in London’s West End.

The online retailer was contacted by Nimax Theatres, the company that operates the Garrick, the Apollo, the Duchess, the Lyric, the Palace and the Vaudeville – some of the capital’s best-known venues.

The recent easing of lockdown restrictions means audiences are due to begin flocking to shows such as Death Drop, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, in addition to celebrity appearances from the likes of Jimmy Carr, Kathy Burke and Jennifer Saunders.

But when staff returned from furlough to prepare for the highly anticipated restart of West End shows, they discovered many of the snacks and drinks already in stock were approaching or had passed their best before date.

With shelves, fridges and stockrooms already full, there was nowhere for the new stocks of food and drink to go.

Nimax Theatres, run by Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer, got in touch with Approved Food as soon as they realised the extent of the problem.

In a matter of hours, Approved Food MD Andy Needham and his team had worked out a rescue mission that saw a vehicle from sister company Morris & Son collect provisions from all six theatres.

Some will be redistributed through the company’s website while others have been donated to street kitchens to help feed the homeless.

Approved Food has completed similar rescue missions throughout lockdown, travelling to football grounds, entertainment venues and arenas around the UK to collect and redistribute food and drinks that would otherwise have been thrown away.

Andy said: “This was one of the consequences of a sudden shutdown that isn’t immediately obvious. The theatres were in suspended animation when staff were furloughed and the doors locked for months. It wasn’t until an opening date was in sight and employees returned to get ready for the re-openings that they realised they had a problem.

“Disposing of so many items as waste was simply too upsetting to contemplate so we managed to put a plan into action within a few hours.

“Logistically, under normal circumstances, co-ordinating six separate pick-ups in the busy streets of London’s West End could have been almost impossible, especially since many of the items were no longer in their case packaging or were in difficult to access areas of the theatres.

“But the show must go on and we are now adept at collecting similar items from venues such as stadiums, arenas, conference centres, tourist attractions and even zoos. So we got together with our sister company, Morris & Son, and completed the rescue mission.

“I’m delighted there is an end in sight for the devastated hospitality and entertainment industries. It has been a long time coming and fingers crossed it will be a permanent thing and we are on the long road back now to normality.

“If there are any other venues out there with similar issues please get in touch and we will try to help wherever we can.”

Approved Food sources perfectly good ‘problem stock’ directly from food manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors, that may otherwise end up as waste, and sells it directly to consumers via the company website. This includes products close to or just past their best before date – but never anything past its use by date.