The ‘phenomenal effort’ of colleagues at Central England Co-op’s distribution hubs has been highlighted as a key part of ensuring local communities continue to have access to vital food and essentials during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Normally, over 300 people across three sites in Leicester help supply over 215 stores across 16 counties every single day.
However, as demand soared following the outbreak and the introduction of a nationwide lockdown, volume levels at the hub soared by between 20% and 30% which required the current team to pull together and work around the clock to make sure they remained safe while ensuring stores remained stocked.
This incredible effort was supported by increasing colleague numbers by between 20% and 25% as well as bringing in extra equipment to ensure demand could be met and putting in place social distancing and hygiene measures.
Lee Dundee, Distribution Warehousing Manager, said: “We have seen record volumes across all of our distribution centres during this uncertain time.
“One of the things we are really proud of in distribution is our ability and agility to change in such a short space of time. We have experienced high volumes in the past but nothing ever like these volumes.
“To ensure we continue to provide vital support to our stores and our communities, we have recruited extra colleagues and had great support from our agency Encore, had great help from our partner Translink to increase our capacity and also increased the levels of equipment across our sites.
“Our colleagues have been showing great commitment by completing extra shifts, overtime shifts and putting themselves out to ensure our stores are stocked and our communities served. I cannot emphasise enough how phenomenal the whole team has been.
“We thrive on these challenges whether it be the driving team, warehouse team or admin team. We know we will get through this together and be able to reflect on what an outstanding achievement it has been.
“Our primary concern has been and always will be the safety of our colleagues and this has seen us have to create new delivery schedules coming out of the Chilled Distribution Centre. This has allowed the volume to be spread across seven days rather than six, therefore reducing the number of colleagues in any one area at any time.
“We have briefed the teams about social distancing, laid down floor markers highlighting two metre spacing, increased rest area facilities and have specific colleagues monitoring and highlighting measures and ensuring they are adhered to.
“We are proud to have, alongside our frontline colleagues in stores and funeral homes, played a vital role in serving our communities during this uncertain time.”
The three distribution sites deliver to over 200 stores, 24 hours a day, 364 days a year
The Society’s Food Distribution Centre is spread over 120,000 sq ft– the equivalent of six Olympic swimming pools – and its Chilled Distribution Centre is 42,000 sq ft.