COVID-19 Response: An update from our CEO, Nick Hay

With the COVID-19 pandemic developing across the globe, Fowler Welch is committed to adhering to the advice of Public Health England and will focus on 2 key priorities as a business;

1) To protect the wellbeing of our colleagues and the colleagues of our customers, suppliers and our customers’ customers; and
2) As a key player in the UK food supply chain, to continue to provide our services to the best of our abilities given the potentially challenging environment that may unfold in the coming weeks.

The approach Fowler Welch has taken covers 3 phases, broadly reflecting the government’s initial phases;

Phase 1: Contain = Common Sense – the initial phase saw Fowler Welch take the following steps;
– Reinforcing advice from Public Health England
– Introduction of Health Questionnaires
– Minimising travel
– Delaying projects to maximise our availability of operational resource

Phase 2: Delay = Minimise Risk – to minimise the risk of disruption across Fowler Welch more recently the following steps have been implemented;
– Ceased travel and invested in the resources needed to increase remote working (purchase of additional laptops and mobile phones)
– Redistributed colleagues to avoid unnecessary centres of concentrated attendance (including Directors and Heads of)
– Implemented daily conference calls for the 24 senior colleagues of Fowler Welch

These steps are not exhaustive but should demonstrate the seriousness with which this situation is being handled. The Company continues to operate in line with customer demands whilst following government advice with regards to the welfare of its teams.

Fowler Welch is now working towards Phase 3, but it is important to note that whilst steps are being taken, the Company is still operating in Phase 2: Minimising Risk.

Phase 3: Mitigate = Disaster Management – whilst there is currently no imminent threat to levels of transport resource, Fowler Welch is taking measures to mitigate the effect of this risk should increased cases of COVID-19 significantly impact the amount of resource available;
– Encouraging simplicity of ordering
•  Removal of small volume skus
•  Minimising case picking to move to layer or pallet level pick
– Reducing the frequency of deliveries to smaller locations to maximise vehicle fill
– Cessation of specials and flexibility of services to provide the maximum effectiveness of the resource available
– Greater collaboration with customers including retailer fleets and direct competitors

Next Steps
Following a prolonged period of significant volume increases throughout our supplier base, the last week has seen customer ordering move to what may now be considered the “new normal” – a more level ordering profile than the previous 4 weeks, but very different to the patterns seen before the outbreak of the virus.

With this in mind Fowler Welch will continue to work with customers to maintain a service as close to normal as possible. However, it is increasingly likely we will have to make decisions to balance volume to available resource – this will be carefully considered and communicated as required.

At this time, I want to thank our dedicated colleagues for their hard work and commitment, and our customers for their continued support and loyalty as we work together to ensure we maximise our operational capabilities and continue to provide valuable services within the food supply chain.

Nick Hay