FWD: Government must act now to protect vulnerable

Distributors of food to hospitals, care homes and other public service contracts say they need immediate government intervention to fulfil contracts, as their businesses are devastated by the closure of pubs and restaurants.

Members of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD), who provide food and drink to both public and private sector businesses, have seen a 70% decline in trade since the Prime Minister’s advice to avoid the pubs, restaurants and places of entertainment that they supply. Many of these customers are now unable to pay for stock they have purchased.

The wholesalers warn that without an immediate and significant government intervention they cannot buy the food needed to fulfill contracts from manufacturers, or pay their staff to prepare and deliver the products.

“We need government to protect the supply chain to the most vulnerable people in our society,” says FWD Chief Executive James Bielby.

“Foodservice distributors have seen their market disappear overnight. With the vast majority of their customers closed and schools closing soon, we desperately need government support to maintain vital supply chains.

“The loans offered by the Chancellor this week would not even cover the credit owed by customers whose own businesses have been destroyed. We’re asking him for support in the form of grants to meet payroll commitments, buy stock from suppliers and keep the wheels rolling.

“We also need the measures the Chancellor made available to hospitality businesses on Monday to be extended to the wholesalers who supply them. We need a business rates holiday, clarity on credit insurance and extended credit with our own suppliers.”

FWD members supply and support 350,000 catering businesses, including hotels, pubs, care homes, takeaways and cafes. They provide food for hospitals and social care establishments, prisons, government and military contacts, and schools and nurseries.

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