Social-distancing changes “not a moment too soon” – FWD

Changes to the UK’s social-distancing rules are “not a moment too soon” for wholesalers according to FWD’s David Visick.

But the federation’s Director of Communications warns that the alteration to bring distancing measures down from two metres to one on 4 July won’t be a silver bullet for struggling foodservice wholesalers as they battle to stay afloat during the coronavirus crisis.

The reduction in the distance people need to stay apart will aid restaurants, pubs and other food and drink outlets in opening their doors again, with several people in the hospitality industry fearing a two-metre distance would make it difficult to trade.

And Visick says greater financial support is still needed to help wholesalers deal with the transition back to providing a supply to hospitality businesses re-opening as part of the government’s relaxing of lockdown.

“It [the reduction of social-distancing rules] is not a moment too soon for foodservice wholesalers who have been clinging on for three months with hardly any turnover and no tangible support from government,” said Visick

“However, the volume of trade even under the looser restrictions is unlikely to allow wholesalers to trade profitably once furlough ends, so we have to maintain pressure on the treasury to give them the same financial support as their customers have had to help them restart.”

One of FWD’s largest members spoke out yesterday as Unitas Wholesale Managing Director Darren Goldney spoke of government “betrayal” in an open letter pleading for industry support.

And with some wholesalers having already made some redundancies in recent weeks, the fear is more job cuts could follow without financial support.

Visick, who alongside Chief Executive James Bielby has worked tirelessly to raise the industry’s need for support at government level throughout the crisis, pointed out that consumer spending alone isn’t the answer.

“Many restaurants, pubs and entertainment venues have unpaid debts to their wholesalers, but will need credit terms to restock,” he added.

“So it will take more than consumer cash flowing up the supply chain to bring the sector and the economy back to life.”

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