Coral Rose is the managing director of the Country Range Group
What have you learnt from the past twelve months from the perspective of running a wholesale operation?
Simply put – we have learnt the government doesn’t understand the work we do and doesn’t care about wholesale. It’s been a horrific year for the sector with a myriad of obstacles to tackle and little wholesale specific support forthcoming from the government. Wholesalers have very much been left to ‘sink or swim’ so it’s a credit to our members and the sector as a whole that they are continuing the fight and showing creativity and innovation to survive.
How has your business changed since the pandemic hit?
As a business we have had to be more flexible in everything we do. The pandemic and the government’s handling of it has meant many bad decisions and U-turns so as a Group we have had to be flexible in our offering, sales, customer service and when it comes to staff. With virtual meetings in lockdown becoming the norm, our use of technology has also had to change to ensure the business can stay connected. Many of these practises such as internal and external virtual meetings will remain post pandemic as they have become fantastic tools to continually keep in contact with sales, marketing teams and suppliers throughout the Group. Whereas in the past it may have been difficult to get everyone in the same room at one time, virtual meetings are much less time-consuming and promote the sharing of great ideas and initiatives for the benefit of all. Our digital communications with caterers have also been ramped up and helped us provide them with timely advice to react quickly to the ever-changing environment.
As we hopefully head into a post-Covid world, what advice/tips can you offer from what you’ve experienced?
I think you’ve got to be a brave person to make predictions about a post-Covid world just yet as the nation, our members and the wholesale industry on a whole, still have many hurdles to overcome. Although it’s not necessarily new advice, the old saying that “communication is key” still rings very true. The pandemic has definitely shown us the importance of keeping open clear channels of communication. A key success factor for the Group and our members has been our continued, regular communication with our suppliers, our Stir it up Magazine and a willing approach to work together to tackle obstacles faced.