Interview: JJ Foodservice talk the impact of Covid-19 on wholesale

We spoke to Sedat Kaan Hendekli, head of operations at JJ Foodservice to discuss the impact of coronavirus on wholesale operations.


What have you learnt from the past twelve months from the perspective of running a wholesale operation? 

Businesses need to be very agile to survive. Rules, market conditions, and stock availability can change from day one to day two. So, one crucial survival skill is to adapt to change by inventing new ways of operating. This could be as small as adjusting your opening hours to redesigning the working order of an entire department or targeting a new sector by working in partnership with your procurement and sales departments. A gazelle cannot outrun a cheetah but can easily outmanoeuvre them; that’s how we had to adapt to the fierce market in the past twelve months. 

 Read more: JJ Foodservice announces supplier conference and targets record sales

How has your business changed since the pandemic hit? 

When the first lockdown was announced in March 2020, we had acquired more than 30,000 household consumers in just a couple of weeks, largely due to many retailers not being able to meet the surge in demand. We quickly announced our next-day home delivery service and broke down the pack sizes of our bulk products to cater for home consumers within days. We launched our “JJ Home” brand, promoting chef-quality at home and bulk savings when you buy big within weeks. Since then, many of the consumers that joined us on impulse never left. We keep adding more products and increasing our presence in the consumer market alongside our core business: restaurants and takeaways.

Read more: Terry Larkin to leave JJ Foodservice after 26 years

As we hopefully head into a post-Covid world, what advice/tips can you offer from what you’ve experienced? 

In February 2020, no one was aware of what was about to hit us in March with the lockdown. It is impossible to predict the future, but businesses cannot take anything for granted and sometimes your Plan B may not be enough. So reinventing your business, creating and relying on your robust systems and not being rigid but flexible is crucial. 

Product availability and quality is a key element, together with a delivery service that is accurate and efficient is a driving force for businesses. Customer service has become more and more important, and the businesses that can effectively communicate with their customers will stand out. 

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Paul Hill
Paul Hill is the Editor of Better Wholesaling. Paul can be found on Twitter on @BW_PaulHill, or can be contacted via paul.hill@newtrade.co.uk and 020 7689 3376.

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