Take a read of our retail Blog from our Head of Trade, Amy Searle.
During a time when the world has totally turned itself upside down, there’s been a real awakening in the industry as retailers, suppliers, local producers and communities have rallied together to ensure that the nation feels safe and our most vulnerable members are protected. It’s been a time of true solidarity and creative agility.
Morrisons amended its purpose this week to ‘Feed the nation’ in order to reassure consumers, whilst also announcing that it would be implementing immediate payments for its smaller suppliers to support their cashflow. Co-op announced that it is creating 5,000 roles to help hospitality workers who have suddenly found themselves out of employment. Supermarkets will be allowed to share vans, stock and staff, in order to alleviate the pressures as panic buying intensifies. Pubs are operating delivery services, offering out cocktail kits, recipe and make at home solutions or pre-cooked meals. Signature Brew, which runs the Blackhorse Beer Mile brewery bar, has launched a “Pub in a Box” containing the brewery’s core range of beers.
For those that know me well, you will know my deep obsession with shopping locally and innate love for the convenience store. And during this unprecedented time, I have never been more proud to know and work with many local retail operators across the UK. Following my conversations with convenience store operators this week, it’s remarkable to see how quickly they’ve adapted and expanded their networks even further to continue to provide their exceptional services and support to their local community.
I had a quick chat with Londis operator, Atul Sodha, this morning and I could have sworn that I could hear cows mooing in the background. Two seconds later, a WhatsApp picture appears and he’s stood at a local farm (White Heath Farm owned and run by Duncan and his wife Lorraine) for the second time that day, making sure he has sufficient supplies of fresh milk and eggs for his store in Harefield.
Atul told me, “It’s all about local supporting local right now. I’m starting in the shop at 5am every morning, taking orders over the phone and holding stock for those in need. I’m consciously holding back key items that are hard to come by – such as toilet rolls and hand sanitizer – for my known elderly customers. People seem to be panic buying items that aren’t even in short supply too.”
I’ve been asking convenience retailers what brands can do at this time to better support local operators. For many, the overriding responses have been: “communication” and “agility”. Immediacy and honestly in supplier comms are more vital than ever at this time. Small operators want a direct line into their Business Development Managers, they want quick WhatsApp updates, instant trade media updates and greater solutions when stocks are on such big backorders. He shared a great xample: “Yesterday, I had a delivery of 150 frozen bread loaves from Cuisine de France – the stuff sandwich shops get – and they sold out in a day. More suppliers need to be thinking outside the box and offering retailers alternative viable options right now.”
Atul has also reached out to local pubs who have turned to delivery services to unite with product deliveries from his shop. With many local pubs being forced to reduce trading hours or even close, it’s important that businesses and suppliers find ways in which to unite and become stronger together.
We’d urge suppliers to keep the dialogue open, fluid and authentic at this worrying time. More than ever, we need to come together, adapt to the outbreak and get creative in the ways in which we can continue to keep the nation safe and guard our most vulnerable community members.
We’re here to help if you need any advice in these unprecedented times.