Two things really happened with COVID. You know obviously COVID came in, all the restrictions, the imposed PPE that was necessary to keep people safe, the changes that we needed to make… too many things to discuss! Changing rooms, social distancing, smoking shelters, PPE, reorganising the lines, protecting the lines with additional barriers to keep people away and socially-distanced. All those things impacted us in a negative way and at the same time, we had massive volume spikes coming from Waitrose as consumers changed the way they bought the food and changed what they ate and when they ate – because lockdown changed the way people were working, people were working from home. We saw a massive demand at the same time as getting this inefficient overhead put on us because of trying to stay safe.
So if I look at the biggest wins and achievements, not only did we do an amazing job at delivering the volume – and well ahead of many other Waitrose suppliers when we look at the actual service level that we offered against record volumes.
People told me when I first joined you know, if we could do 70 tonnes as a Christmas special then we did really well; well we learnt how to do that – I think we had eight or nine weeks continuously at that level with no planning – whereas Christmas we had planned it!
If I look at that combination of staying safe, being able to achieve amazing volume requirements and demands, as that demand changed to us, the overall adaptability that was shown and the flexibility across all of the teams for me has been a massive win. I hope we as a whole team just took that and said ‘wow, look at what we’re capable of’ because that confidence should be there at looking back and saying ‘how we reacted to that crisis, you know, why can’t we just leverage that all of the time, how good could we be’?
For me that’s the biggest win — that growth in confidence, that ability to work rapidly, make decisions, be adaptable, and deliver to our customer.