Parfetts Joint Managing Director Greg Suszczenia paid homage to his team’s adaptability as the wholesaler grapples with heightened demand during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The cash and carry business’s depots have been inundated with a high volume of customers since Covid-19 restrictions were announced, but Suszczenia told TWC’s latest Sound Bites vlog, he’s been delighted with the way his teams have reacted to the increased demand.

With depot employees facing risks to their health as key workers, along with the extra work, Suszczenia revealed Parfetts had brought forward a bonus planned for July to reward their commitment – and praised the resolve he’s witnessed across the business.

“None of us signed up for this in wholesale or retail to be taking a risk coming to work. The staff have been amazing throughout. They’re working harder than ever.”” Suszczenia said.

“It’s something I’m proud of [how Parfetts has adapted to the crisis]. There’s no copy book for something like this.

“We have a very flat structure at a senior level and branch level. Very quickly, as a board, we decided to meet three times a week and more if necessary. We have a directors’ WhatsApp and we visit all the branches regularly. If we think something needs to be done, we act on it straight away.”

Listen to Suszczenia’s full interview on TWC’s Sound Bites

A mark of Parfetts’ increased workload is highlighted by its figures, with the business (including tobacco) 100% up on trading this time last year.

Suszczenia spoke about how, during the coronavirus crisis, every week is similar to a trade week at a Parfetts’ depot and while sales have sky rocketed, they could have been even higher if they’d had better stock availability.

Keeping cash and carries stocked up is an industry-wide issue and Parfetts is working closely with suppliers to keep products – particularly in alcohol and grocery categories – flowing through their depot.

“Overnight, everything changed. The on-trade closing is just enormous and if you’re a regular pub drinker, your best substitute is going and replacing that at your convenience store,” added Suszczenia.

“That means an awful lot of change overnight in terms of consumption and demand on our side. Grocery is the other thing – wholesale pretty much lost grocery a few years ago and we’ve clung on to it at Parfetts. Then overnight, grocery went through the roof and morning goods went back to how they were 20-odd years ago

“I understand for suppliers to reshape those forecasts is really difficult but, on the other hand, it’s absolutely vital they do supply us. It’s not just commercial, it’s the right thing for the country that a convenience store has availability of these products.

“The policy for me is to work with them [suppliers] but there is a fear. Going into the Sheffield depot, we have loads of empty shelves and supermarkets are boasting about availability, so it’s an ongoing battle.”

Watch the full interview on TWC’s Sound Biteswhich includes chats with a host of industry figures.

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