With events relating to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) changing daily, we are continuing to monitor the global developments regarding the outbreak and taking necessary steps in line with the World Health Organisation and government guidance in each of the countries in which we operate.
We have three clear objectives:
To protect the health and well-being of our employees, customers, suppliers and communities;
To protect the delivery of services to our customers;
To support our customers to adapt to the changing circumstances.
We have a robust, resilient and flexible global infrastructure and we are continually reviewing our existing Business Continuity Plans to take account of the developing circumstances. Here’s a summary of the actions that we’ve taken so far:
Major incident management
We have established a dedicated Crisis Management team to monitor and manage our response to the rapidly changing situation. This team is made up of our senior executives and other subject matter experts.
Protection of our locations
We are minimising external visits to our sites. We ask our customers and suppliers to support us in this action.
We have tested our IT capability across all our markets and are confident that we have the appropriate measures in place should our colleagues need to work from home.
Regarding our Distribution Centres, we have a global distribution network - with distribution centres in the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, South Africa, North America, Australia, Hong Kong, China and Japan – this means we are able to flex our supply chain. We are taking all practical steps to maintain normal operations.
Maintaining our service
With a robust, resilient and flexible global infrastructure, we are in a strong position to be able to adapt quickly to ensure we can protect our service to our customers.
We have a significant amount of stock across our network and our distribution capabilities mean that we can reroute deliveries should that be needed.
As a technology-enabled business we are confident that even if our customers and/or our people are working remotely, we can continue to provide supply.
As you might expect, we are seeing increased demand in Personal Protective Equipment across those products that are critical for the virus. There is a market-wide shortage of face masks – we are not immune from this. We are investing in additional inventory over these areas, many of which have extended lead times, to ensure we can continue to supply our customers.
Preventing the spread of infection
We are monitoring all large events and exhibitions that we are due to attend and taking the necessary steps to ensure safety first.
We have shared guidelines with our colleagues on frequent handwashing.
We have clear procedures in place should any of our colleagues return from a high risk location, have contact with someone who is confirmed with the Coronavirus or is presenting with symptoms.
We have measures in place to ensure that we minimise any risk to our colleagues in the DCs while they continue to undertake their critical role to keep our shelves stocked and customer orders fulfilled.
Travel and Remote working
We have stopped all international business travel, unless it is absolutely critical.
We are discouraging domestic business travel and asking our colleagues to use technology where they can.
We are discouraging non-essential internal meetings requiring people to travel.
We will make decisions regarding homeworking consistent with government advice in each country and location. We have already conducted significant testing to ensure we are ready to switch to remote working should we need to.
Q. Do you have any face masks in stock?
A. Demand has been unprecedented for face masks and we are currently out of stock. We are working with our suppliers to try and secure additional stock and will allocate this accordingly when they become available.
Q. What is your stock position on other Personal Protective Equipment products?
A. We are investing significantly in those PPE products that we are seeing higher than usual demand for. Those include: Aprons, Disposable Gloves, Hand Cleaners and Soaps, Hand Wipes, Multi-purpose Wipes, Overalls, Reusable Respirators, Reusable Respirator Accessories and Safety Goggles.
Q. What about wider stock availability, do you anticipate any issues?
A. We hold a good depth of inventory. We have been in contact with all our suppliers to confirm the availability of stock and confident that we are currently in a strong position.
Q. Are you prioritising stock for the impacted regions?
A. We are seeing significant increase in demand for products such as face masks, hand gel, and other personal protective products. We're working with our supplier partners and doing everything we can to maintain good levels of stock. We will prioritise the allocation of face masks for our employees and customers in the impacted regions to play our part in helping those where there is the greatest need given the situation.
Q. Do products coming from Asia present a contamination risk?
A. No. People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the Coronavirus. From previous analysis, the World Health Organisation have stated that Coronaviruses do not survive long on objects such as letters or packages. We are waiting for further guidance on this and will update accordingly.