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Mark, my words: Adapting to Covid challenges

Cedabond 4 – Mark Kendall crop
Cedabond's Mark Kendall has been observing how the buying group's members and suppliers have quickly changed tack following the coronavirus impact.

Cedabond commercial director Mark Kendall returns in our regular series to take stock of the coronavirus crisis’ impact on the buying group’s membership and suppliers:

On my travels across the UK this month it has been heartening to see how suppliers and distributors have innovated to meet the challenges of Covid-19.

The start of Q2 pretty much coincided with the introduction of lockdown and so, not surprisingly, Cedabond witnessed a significant drop in business from members, as sales and orders from the end user market fell away significantly. As we enter the middle of Q3, things have started to pick up, and with hospitality ‘open’ again, Cedabond has been fascinated to learn of the many ways that businesses have navigated the crisis, and some of the tools that they have used.

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Nobody in the industry had heard of the phrase PPE before March but it has proved to be a fantastic source of revenue for those companies that identified the potential of supplying it, initially to the NHS and key worker companies, and subsequently to the wider marketplace, as lockdown eased and foodservice operators re-opened. Cedabond member UHC (United Hygiene & Catering) was one of those businesses.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams have proved invaluable tools in the battle to keep those working from home connected to the supply chain, with many businesses and associations also using them to provide everything from webinars to technical training seminars. The crisis has also brought other important industry issues to the fore – such as mental health and HR – and these too have been the subject of online webinars, often supported by other trade bodies such as CEDA and the FEA. It will be very interesting to see if this method of doing business persists in the long term.

As an organisation, Cedabond would also like to praise the support that its members have had from the supply chain. Aside from general help with things like extended payment terms and payment plans, some suppliers have introduced very specific initiatives to help.

For example, Foster and Gamko announced that they would be doubling their interest-free credit offering so that customers have 24 months to pay for their refrigeration and chilling equipment, double the previous 12 month period. And they have the added benefit of a 3-month payment holiday. Unlike other third-party credit schemes, the Foster and Gamko interest-free service is backed by a division of parent company ITW, a specialist in handling credit applications.

As our members navigated lockdown, many took the opportunity to review aspects of their business that don’t always receive detailed attention, such as their marketing and communications. In conjunction with our media agency, Dunk Ink, we have supported these efforts by delivering successful social media campaigns on behalf of several members during Q2 and into Q3.

On a more sombre note, it is very sad to see the many redundancies being reported across the equipment sector, and hospitality in general. With this in mind, we would like to acknowledge and commend CEDA for its ‘CedaRetain’ initiative which it has set up specifically to help those in the industry who face redundancy. Those wishing to register for this excellent, free service should visit ceda.co.uk/cedaretain/ where they will find yet another great example of the cross-industry support that will ultimately help us to get through this crisis.

Whilst many businesses and individuals have undoubtedly suffered during the Covid-19 crisis, it is most definitely the case that had suppliers and dealers not been united in their determination to work through it together, things could have been much worse.

Tags : buying consortiumbuying groupCedabondcoronavirusopinion
Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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