Resource-sharing plan supporting sector

Wholesalers across the UK are pooling resource to help businesses deal with the feast and famine nature of the coronavirus outbreak.

With the demand on retail-facing businesses ramping up to unprecedented levels and foodservice facing the complete opposite with most of their regular customers forced to stop trading, a scheme set up by SWA Chief Executive Colin Smith is encouraging wholesalers to work together to get through the challenges.

Smith – in association with FWD – has launched a UK-wide initiative to log where there are certain wholesalers in need of additional support and others that can offer transport and personnel resource.

“It’s trying to match that excess capacity that has been created within the membership that have been affected and marrying it with those that are now requiring it,” explained Smith.

“Basically, transferring the staff from foodservice members over to some of our members who are more retail focused.

“It’s allowing them to keep an employee working within the industry and hopefully when the better times return, they’ll go back to their original employer. It’s trying to keep the food and drink field moving, that’s all we’re trying to do – working collaboratively to pool resources.”

The initiative initially launched in Scotland was rolled out to England and Wales at the end of last week, with a central database housed on SWA’s website so people can access it themselves.

The scheme is likely to branch out even further than wholesale, with other food distribution businesses, including Asda, being added on there. Smith is also in talks with the Scottish government to see if it can be extended through Scottish Enterprise too.

“It [the initiative] is in its early days, but we’ve already had cross-sharing of members over the weekend and through the logistics side,” said Smith.

“Retail members are seeing an increase in sales so are requiring additional drivers and lorries, so foodservice members have given the trucks and a driver.

“Retailers are going to require more now because they have additional cases to get out, that’s really helpful with foodservice because they have multi-temperature trucks.”

With uncertainty spreading across the entire foodservice industry, Smith delivered a rallying cry to encourage even greater collaboration across wholesale to help those in need.

“While half the industry is seeing boom, the other is seeing possible destruction, so if we’re sharing our business, can foodservice service retail customers themselves to help out? What I’m saying is, can we go further than just sharing resource and can we save business?,” Smith added.

“I don’t know how that would be done, but it’s a plea. I think we will have consolidation in the marketplace, so let’s try to save as many businesses and employees as we can along the way.”

Wholesalers can view the SWA Resource Sharing database on the SWA website and can Colin Smith on

Asda coronavirus covid-19 delivery Foodservice FWD retail SWA wholesale