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How can retail and hospitality sectors help each other in the face of coronavirus?

Claire Fox Partner, PwC United Kingdom

In extraordinary times, we’re seeing remarkable actions from the retail and hospitality community. Some businesses are loaning forklifts to supermarkets, some are using supply chains to deliver Personal Protective Equipment, and others are delivering emergency supplies nationwide. 

But there are still businesses across the sector - and further afield - in need of assistance, whether that’s staffing, supply chain or logistics.

Where do businesses need help?

So far, we’re seeing the labour market hold up reasonably well. Though absences are slightly higher than usual, employment levels remain fairly manageable for those still trading. The same can be said for volumes in grocery and FMCG. Despite being up around 50% year-on-year, they’re currently at similar levels to Christmas trading, so remain just about manageable - though stretched without the stock build opportunity - provided the supply chain continues to function. 

However, there are potential areas of concern - immediately and in the short- to medium-term. With general workers in decent supply, there’s an unease around the number of skilled roles and engineers that can’t be backfilled. 

While logistics and supply chains remain relatively stable for the time being, a shortage of refrigerated trailers could put a serious dent in its efficiency. As could a reduction in the pool of drivers, particularly if the government decides at any point to lower the recommended age for those needing to self-isolate. There are even question marks in less-considered areas, such as MOT testing for supply chain vehicles and licences, for example.

These issues can all be overcome through collaboration between retailers which will allow sharing of the resources, particularly since the Government announced that it was temporarily relaxing elements of competition law last week.

What can you do?

  1. Think about your assets: if you don’t need them right now can you lease, lend or sell them? 

  2. Is there another way you can help? For example, if a business requires assistance in its supply chain, is there anything you can do? - e.g. renting specific equipment or locations that you don’t need at the moment?

  3. Reach out to your contacts across your sector and beyond - For now, businesses need to leverage personal relationships in this situation. However, we anticipate a more formal agreement that facilitates this new, collaborative way of working within days. 

In the absence of any formal arrangements, if you’re looking to collaborate but maybe don’t know the right people, please get in touch and let us know how you can help. As advisors to the retail and hospitality sectors, we’re talking to a lot of businesses at the moment and may be able to help make those connections. 

More on how to respond to the business impacts of COVID-19

Contact us

Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7525 282685

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