Wholesalers adapt to COVID-19 challenges

Photo: Facebook/United Wholesale Scotland LTD

As the COVID-19 outbreak deals a body blow to the foodservice and on-trade sector, wholesalers are adapting to the new challenges, supporting their communities and customers along the way.

United Wholesale, Scotland’s leading independent wholesaler, has been communicating key messages around the COVID-19 crisis via its social media channels. Within depots, they practice and promote social distancing.

The wholesaler has also been supporting local stores in various ways, from encouraging those in the area to use well-stocked local stores rather than queueing at the crowded supermarkets, to helping retailers to prioritise their more vulnerable customers with home deliveries and click and collect.

United Wholesale has also reminded stores to avoid inflating prices by firmly pushing RRPs.

In measures to support the community, the wholesaler has donated handwash, cleaning products and toilet roll to some of Scotland’s local mosques and Gurdwaras. They are also part of Viral Kindness Scotland, and are pushing the freephone support number offering support for those struggling in the crisis.

In addition, they gave £1,000 to the Day Today store in Stenhousemuir which made up care bags of essential foods, face masks and hand sanitiser for those in the community aged 70 plus.

JW Filshill, another major Scottish wholesaler, is also supporting its customers and stores during the crisis, with KeyStores particularly receiving praise from their local communities for availability and customer service.

The entire management team, from chief executive downward, is donning high-vis and getting involved in the physical challenge to meet extra demand from receipting and processing stock through to loading customer vehicles.

Country Fare, a foodservice wholesaler in Bournemouth specialising in fresh foods, has gone the extra mile to keep the cash flow of its customer base of cafes, delis and restaurants fluid. It has created a range of fresh fruit and veg boxes to be sold via their cafe and restaurant customers, converting them as a community store.

Robinsons’s, a foodservice wholesaler in the Isle of Man, has rolled out a Home Care Box Scheme to support customers who are unable to get to the shops. The Care Box service offers four different boxes: fruit, veg, meat and everyday essentials. In addition, the wholesaler’s five Shoprite stores are also offering protected shopping times for the over 70s.

Agrimark, based in the Isle of Man, is closing early some days in order to prioritise orders and deliveries for nursing homes and hospitals. The wholesaler also used social media to highlight its deliveries of toilet roll, rice and pasta.