The Coronavirus Crisis is challenging our daily lives and affecting us all. Local businesses are no different. How do businesses make sure that they survive and continue to trade in the most unusual circumstances?
Local family business Jos Richardson & Son Ltd has been in operation since 1892 so will have seen some fairly major challenges in its 128-year history including 2 World Wars.
Managing Director Joseph Richardson is adamant that the business has to adapt to survive. “We have 150 employees that rely on us weathering this storm, it is crucial that after this we have a viable business to continue employing people and to be able to supply our customers with essential products”
Jos Richardson & Son operate 8 petrol forecourts in Yorkshire and the first challenge was to respond to the social distancing advice given to firms before the full lockdown. The stores immediately implemented signage, tape on the floors and self-scanning at the checkouts, this was followed by Perspex screens at the point of sale to protect customers and employees.
Then like the rest of the country the business had to contend with the full lockdown. Joseph continues “initially there were very worrying signs, fuel sales dropped off a cliff as everyone was staying at home. Our shop sales were more resilient as customers looked for essential items that were unavailable at supermarkets after the panic buying”
The teams at Jos Richardson worked hard in the first couple of weeks to find alternative suppliers to source basics like bread, flour, pasta and eggs, using social media to notify local customers of availability.
Director Jane Richardson is responsible for business communications. “our stores are a vital resource for local communities, many residents have been relying on us for their groceries and household products and we have had to adapt our ranges to suit this changing demand.”
Identifying new opportunities and working with other businesses has also proved successful. A partnership with Howden Garden Centre, California Gardens, who had to close means that customers can now buy compost, weed killers, bulbs and plants from at least 5 of the Jos Richardson forecourt sites.
Jos Richardson & Son also run 3 Subway franchises which were forced to close in March. A stock take of Subway products revealed a number of disposable gloves which the Company decided to donate to local care homes. Over 30,000 single use plastic gloves were given to Care providers in Airmyn, Howden and Riccall.
Jane Richardson continued “this crisis has taught us all the importance of our local community and we were keen to give something back to those who are tirelessly working to protect the vulnerable in social care. We have also received lots of support from our customers old and new and from our tremendous employees who have been at the coal face everyday working hard to serve their local neighbourhood. We are so grateful for their commitment and dedication”