FWD Update: Coronavirus crisis

In his latest update, James Bielby, FWD Chief Executive, talks agility, adaptability and how FWD is supporting its foodservice members

We have always said that the wholesale industry has great agility in responding to opportunities and it has proved it’s just as innovative in a challenge as well. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen FWD members working together to repurpose stock, setting up home delivery services, and sharing people and vehicles to cope with uneven demand.

While wholesalers to retail have been rushed off their feet meeting consumers’ unpredictable behaviour, foodservice members of FWD have seen their business grind to a halt. For the members that serve both retail and foodservice, they can shift resources internally, but for the pure foodservice distributors, no customers means no cash and nowhere to go. This is the section of membership that we’re most concerned about and the main thrust of our engagement with government is to appeal for extra measures to help them get through the next few months.


Taking action

There’s guidance coming out of Whitehall at tremendous pace, which isn’t always clear and concise or even correct initially. We need to interpret it and identify the parts that apply to our members. Members then ask questions and make suggestions, and we pass those back to the officials.

As well as talking to government, we’re also continually talking to, and supporting, our members. Our WhatsApp group of more than 200 wholesalers is great for immediate communications and reactions, and we work with our ‘Covid Council’ on strategy and messaging.

We’ve also set up a Coronavirus resource on our website, with all the government guidance and links to background documents which is open to everyone at www.fwd.co.uk. And our magazine, Wholesale News, which is available online and in print, brings you the latest updates, as well as examples of innovation and adaptability from across the sector.


Working together

There’s incredible industry collaboration going on and FWD is firmly in the mix. We’re chairing a group of around 60 trade associations which is finding a way to get stocks of fresh and chilled products to where they’re most needed.

Other groups we’re involved in are talking every day to share knowledge and resources. It’s a huge effort from hundreds of companies and trade representatives who have come together with no agenda other than to keep feeding the nation.

coronavirus covid-19 Foodservice FWD Government retail wholesale