Nisbets has written to manufacturers requesting them to prioritise supply if the coronavirus impacts product availability.
The company – Britain’s largest provider of commercial catering equipment – asked suppliers to complete a spreadsheet containing more than 30 questions about the possible impact of COVID-19 on their supply chains and the mitigation plans they have in place.
It appealed for an estimate on the percentage of goods supplied to Nisbets that need to be shipped from China, the volume of stock for Nisbets that they hold in the UK and whether they have the ability to track where goods are located in real time within their supply chain.
The form asks suppliers to agree to prioritise supply to the Nisbets group of companies in the event of any supply shortages and to continue to adhere to any agreed SLAs, according to those familiar with the situation.
Additionally, it demands that suppliers inform Nisbets immediately if any unforeseen circumstances arise that may disrupt or delay supply.
In the email, Nisbets said it is “concerned at the possible impact on supply of products or services to the Nisbets Group due to the COVID-19 outbreak”, adding that the information was needed urgently due to the “rapidly escalating situation”.
Suppliers were asked to complete the form and return it to an email address set up by its Corona Virus Response Team at the end of last month.
As reported previously by our sister publication FEJ, the cross-functional team was created by Nisbets to examine ways in which it can minimise the effect of coronavirus on its business.
One supplier said it understood Nisbets’ decision for issuing the request for information, but questioned the tone of the email and a lack of empathy towards staff welfare.
Another claimed it had refused to sign the document, insisting it was impossible to make guarantees on supply given the unprecedented nature of the crisis.
Nisbets said it was not in a position to provide further comment.