Cotswold Fayre is reporting an improvement on orders being placed compared to the pre-Christmas period, although cash flow issues are predicted next month following the closure of 30% of its customer base due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chief executive Paul Hargreaves explained that due to the fine foods wholesaler stocking more than 3,000 products, it has left the business with much higher out of stocks as suppliers struggle to keep goods moving into the warehouse quickly enough. “This was more exaggerated in the early weeks of Covid-19 but is spreading into wider ranges now, including chilled.”
“We have lost supply from a very small percentage of suppliers, less than 5%,” he added. “It seems strange to me that anyone within the food and drink industry would shut up shop at a time when lots of people need extra supply of retail stock. Most of our suppliers have really stepped up and responded to the challenge in such difficult circumstances. The adaptability and flexibility has been incredibly inspiring to see. Some suppliers have even created new products especially for these strange times and many have put in loads of extra hours to keep the supplies going.”
He then explained how the business is expecting some cash flow issues in a month with around 30% of its customer base having to close and apply for one of the government-backed loans.
Hargreaves also called on the wholesale industry to collaborate, adapt and interrupt in these trying times: “Now is the time to collaborate more than ever, and we will come out of this with more collaboration across the business world I am sure. Adaptation is also more important than ever. And interruption; we have all had a huge shock to our systems. Use this interruption and lockdown to pause, reflect and potentially come out of this with a new business model that is better for people and better for the planet.”