Posted: 06/05/2020

“We’re now in the ‘locked down, pivot-my-business, and survive’ stage”

Has a line like, “All the world’s a stage” ever been more true than right now? We are now all certainly defined by them.

In January and February, it was the ‘Not sure what’s going on in China’ stage. Then in March we had the ‘Actually, this could cause some disruption’ stage followed shortly by the ‘We have a catastrophic problem’ stage. And in the last five weeks we’ve enduring the ‘Locked down, pivot-my-business, and survive’ stage, writes John Farrand, Guild MD.

John Farrand

What is coming next? I’m going for the ‘Shouty recovery’ stage. The most encouraging snippet from our recent COVID-19 survey (see page 6) is that 2-in-3 retailers have seen new customers shopping with them since lockdown began. Coupled with the fact that more than half of the retailers who responded to our survey said they saw an increase in sales of at least 10% in March (year-on-year), and it must mean that more food & drink is being sold through our nation’s independent shops.  

More consumers than ever are now seeing the quality and service that our sector offers, and it is our job to remind them regularly and loudly from now on.

So, how is the Guild shouting? We’ve collected a bevy of good news stories celebrating innovation and ingenuity and we’ve pumped that out to national and local press. We’ve been bashing government about loans, grants and furloughs via partner organisations like the IRC and the ACS and we’re yelling about how good our regional producers are through the consumer-facing delicious magazine and across social media. But there’s more to do. You can read more about our next steps – like our virtual pub discussion and the British Cheese Weekender – on the page opposite this column.

Once we’re back to a normal stage it will be caring, community-driven, supportive and calmer.

And with a resistance to rampant globalisation, in the Bard’s words again, it might well prove to be “as we like it”.

Read more in May’s edition of Fine Food Digest – read online here.

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