Supporting our suppliers during Covid-19
7 May 2020
Throughout this crisis we’ve provided you with updates on how we’re ensuring the safety of our customers and colleagues, and how we continue to support communities up and down the UK. As Chief Product Officer, I wanted to focus on the work we’ve been doing in partnership with our suppliers to keep food on our shelves, and ensure we continue to feed the nation.
Through our long-term partnerships with our suppliers we’ve been able to work together through the crisis and meet many of the challenges we’ve faced. We work with more than 3,000 suppliers in the UK alone, all of whom have been affected by the outbreak. As the crisis took hold we wanted to do all we could to support these businesses. Our smaller suppliers have often been the hardest hit, so from the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak we put changes in place to make sure 500 of our smallest suppliers have their invoices paid immediately, instead of the usual 14 days. This change will be in place for three months.
We’ve been in constant conversation with our suppliers, farmers and growers over the last few weeks and we’ve made a number of changes to help them work through some of the challenges that have developed during the crisis. Wherever we can, we’re working hard to take as much of our farmers’ crops as possible, utilising everything we can, even if fruit and veg may not be looking its best due to weather conditions or transportation issues.
Many of our suppliers would usually provide food to restaurants, cafes and the food service industry. Due to the temporary closure of these industries, we’ve worked with our suppliers to take eggs, chicken and potatoes that were originally destined for restaurant chains including McDonald’s, Nando’s and fish and chip shops.
Some sectors of our agriculture industry have faced specific challenges including our dairy and beef farmers. We work with 600 dedicated dairy farmers who are guaranteed a fair price for their milk, insulating them from any market fluctuations in milk prices at uncertain times like these. We continue to pay our dairy farmers a premium for every pint of milk we sell, and we are doing the same for many of our cheese suppliers too.
All of our fresh beef continues to be 100% British and Irish. Our customers have stocked up on essentials like beef mince, but due to restaurant closures many beef farmers have found they have a lot of steak left to sell. To help our suppliers, we’ve been promoting beef steaks as well as promoting half price roasting joints over the Easter break. This has had a significant impact with last week being our biggest week for steak sales over the last five years.
We’ve also been doing all we can to support horticulture suppliers, working in collaboration with our bedding plant supplier to take products that were destined for garden centres. We’ve added additional plant stock to over a thousand stores including many of our Express and Metro stores, and our Jack’s stores too.
We rely on our suppliers to get products on the shelves for our customers, and I want to thank them for going above and beyond during these extraordinary times.