Collaboration has been the order of the day at Confex as the buying group continues to pick its way through the Covid-19 crisis.

HR and Marketing Director Jess Douglas says the business has prioritised working closely with suppliers and wholesalers during the pandemic as they continue with “business as usual”.

Douglas, who was talking as part of TWC’s Sound Bites series, admits there are clear challenges to doing that but has been as supportive as possible as businesses continue to adapt to the situation.

And while some suppliers are deciding to put a freeze on promotional activity, Confex is still doing what it can.

“We have had some suppliers that will take that action, but we’ve also got a lot [of activity] in the pipeline already and we’ll see more of that in the next couple of months,” said Douglas.

“I know promoting is not exactly at the top of everybody’s agenda at the moment, but the suppliers are trying to support us as much as we are them.

“We’re trying to support our suppliers whatever they’re doing. As a business, we’re doing whatever we can to keep things as normal as possible.”

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

Confex’s diverse supplier base means Douglas has witnessed the boom-and-bust nature of the pandemic first hand, with retailers enjoying unprecedented demand and foodservice wholesalers having to innovate to stay afloat.

But thanks to the inclusive nature of the buying group – along with its member marketplace – Confex has managed to ease those issues.

“That lack of trade [for foodservice wholesalers] came about so quickly for so many, which came as such a shock,” Douglas added.

“That foodservice changed within 24 hours, which is hard for anybody. Amazingly, the diversification of that is where we’ve tried to support with initiatives we’ve put in place.

“Something we put in place before coronavirus, but has worked well, has been our member marketplace, which is an online portal that allows our members to intertrade with each other.

“When that foodservice dropped off a cliff, that enabled us to move stock between each other easier. I know other buying groups have done that too and it’s helped.”

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