Foodservice wholesaler Thomas Ridley has tackled 2020 with an agility and flexibility that has resulted in a positive impact on their business.  Well known as a key wholesaler to the foodservice and hospitality industries, at the start of the lockdown, the company saw a huge lift in takeaway products for their customers and a swing to households visiting their website and placing orders. Quickly realising that individual shoppers have very different needs to the foodservice industry, the Thomas Ridley team set about ensuring that their digital offering could meet both opportunities.

Darren Osborn, eCommerce Director at Thomas Ridley Foodservice describes the impact of the lockdown on the business,

“To be honest, we were preparing for the worst, with schools, cafes and restaurants closed, we had to think quickly as to how we could continue to operate during the lockdown.  After a day or two, we started to see a substantial uplift in our web traffic, sales of bread mix increasing in demand and new customers joining us who were obviously family households.  Over the course of 2020 we’ve had weeks where we’ve had to process over 90,000 orders and sold 12,000 bags of bread flour, in just 7 days!  Our foodservice customers have also been ordering lots of takeaway packaging, showing just how adaptable their businesses have been during this time.”

The many years of hard work to ensure the Thomas Ridley website is one of the best in the business ensured the system could handle the significant increases in traffic and orders.  Prior planning and increasing stock holding meant supply was good across virtually all lines, and when faced with a 15,000% increase in demand for bread flour, the team could deliver.

Darren outlines some of the online changes,

“Our click & collect service is open to anyone, we do not require customers to have an account with us, they can shop as guests and we also deliver nationwide by courier.  We have increased our range of smaller pack sizes and our fruit and vegetable boxes have been so popular that we are going to keep providing these as an ongoing line.  We had to increase our warehouse shifts to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and implement significant changes across our whole operation to ensure the safety of our team.  We changed our delivery model to contactless when supplying to our care home customers and offered discounts on orders for the NHS and education workforce.”

Thomas Ridley has taken a number of measures to ensure the health and safety of both our staff and our customers, implementing strict procedures to all staff entering our buildings, this includes morning temperature checks, regular cleaning routines and hand sanitising stations throughout. Signage on all doors outlines the company policy, explaining in full detail instructions to external delivery drivers as well as the process regarding temperature checking and hand washing/sanitising stations.

Darren concludes,

“As a family run business, we have operated with incredible agility to ensure that we protect the jobs of our employees as well as taking advantage of the new opportunities over the last few months.  It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride, with huge ups and downs every day, and new challenges thrown at us. We’ve all pulled together as an amazing team to ensure we provide our customers, old and new, with the best possible products and service.”

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