… and all who work in them! Empty shelves truly have not been their fault. We are amid strange times right now, but there are many small things that we can all do to lessen the load. Doing my own local shop I’ve questioned the need for the “Please Do Not Abuse Our Staff” posters at the checkout – but assured sadly yes, they absolutely are needed. Am just horrified. So this week, we simply want to implore you all to be extra kind to the supermarkets and all who work in them.
There have been issues, the past fortnight especially. We all know that. In our aisle, because of the extra hand washing that we’re being told we need to engage in, the issue we’ve faced has been widespread shortages of soap and hand-wash in the shops. Stockpiling quickly became the norm for so many across the UK- and indeed the globe. Couple that with the fact that we’re all now much more likely to go through a single bar or bottle a lot more quickly than we usually would – and we certainly have a problem.
You may have caught one of the radio interviews or my own personal posts about the empty shelves and begging the public not to berate those who work in stores, demanding they order more – the things is, it’s not that simple. An order to a supplier doesn’t guarantee a fulfilled order – especially now – hence the chaos.
We have been on the phone constantly to buyers the past few weeks. the relationships have had to change – we are all working so collaboratively, helping, sharing information, really working together like never before. EVERYONE has been working flat out to solve this unprecedented situation when overnight, all supply chain forecasts went out the window. We were all guessing numbers and stabbing in the dark.
We hold on average 3-4 months of stock for all lines – as does any business, constantly manufacturing to maintain that supply and this works. Then the world flipped in a matter of days and take our Asda account as an example, the quantities ordered and that we delivered the week before last amounted to SIX MONTHS supply in normal numbers. In a WEEK. Then last week even more is requested. That’s just 4 lines – when you look how many products we create for all the retailers together we simply don’t have enough lines in the factory to run them all 24:7. Demand simply exceeds supply. Overnight. It’s basic maths and it takes time to get back to normal levels again – hence the shelves being bare temporarily. All shelves from soaps to other essentials such as milk, eggs, bread, soups and so forth….
Everyone‘s been caught by surprise. There are so many components involved in any product on the supermarket shelf that it’s a juggle at the best of times to line up and manufacture for a scheduled day and time. The whole supply chain entails so many steps to get products made and to shelf: from purchasing all the separate raw ingredients, organising delivery to the factory, getting the packaging (cartons and outer cases) need to be printed, cut, creased and glued and delivered in. All these things have to be lined up to be able to hit go to manufacture and be delivered to the depot and then sent into the major retailer depots – so many people are involved…. hence why shouting at supermarket staff to “order more stock” isn’t helpful or so simple (!)
We are fortunate that we manufacture everything in Britain. Of course we do and we are so proud to be a British brand through and through, We need to keep Britain manufacturing and instances such as this remind us why! I cannot thank our supply chain and finance team and all our suppliers enough for their hard work of late. Also the retailers – many of whom have sliced our payment terms from 60 days to some next day, 5 days or even 14 days. It makes a MASSIVE difference. Thank you. Yes, there have been a few empty shelves but in the big scheme of things am so proud we remained on most throughout – and that has been a lot of hard work, late nights, early mornings and scenario plotting.
What I can assure you this is what everyone is frantically doing behind closed doors! It’s not the retailers fault, it’s not the suppliers fault. There will be some empty shelves across the board temporarily as things catch up, but this is not the fault of anyone aside us buying way more than was needed when it comes to essentials such as soap, loo roll and canned goods.
You’ll have noticed this week things are righting themselves and that will remain if we all consider what goes in our trollies more…
There IS enough to go round
Honestly- there really IS enough to go around. My father in law was a grocer and often reminisces about rationing. His sentiments couldn’t be more poignant- you’d be very surprised to see how little everyone was rationed for one week during the Second World War! Remember this image as we look at our fridges and freezers. We have enough.
Please continue to consider what you buy over the coming weeks and think about donating to food banks for any excess you may have.
If nothing else #coronavirus has made us all review many things. Consumerism. Materialism. The time and money we waste on unnecessary travel….
When everything is suddenly uncertain, everything that is important becomes clear.