BAT reps throughout the UK returned to visiting partnered stores on 8 June following more than two months off the road due to lockdown.

A spokesperson for the tobacco giant told betterRetailing: “Following careful monitoring of relevant government coronavirus guidance and after conducting risk assessments for our staff, a number of BAT UK trade representatives will restart visits to independent convenience stores week commencing 8th June 2020. We will be conducting visits for as long as guidance permits and will continually assess risk levels for both our staff and our trade partners.”

Explaining the impact of lockdown on its staff, BAT said: “Our trade representatives switched into a telesales unit overnight. We developed new ways of working with our retailers, using alternative communication methods, identifying new routes to market and activation touchpoints, and even had the opportunity to help retailers to implement social distancing rules in their stores. Altogether, we have adapted fast and learnt a lot, and we will now use this experience to adapt to the ‘new normal’ that the coming months will bring.”

The firm said it would also be helping partnered stores adapt to the new circumstances. “Given the current challenges experienced by retailers and the communities they serve, our priority is to better understand how we can serve our retail partners in the ‘new normal’ we expect to unfold in the coming months,” they said.

BAT confirmed that all of its reps have received training and PPE supplies in order to facilitate safe store visits. Its return to stores marks the beginning of the 12 week window stores were given by the tobacco firm to hand back non-compliant menthol and non-track and trace stock following the 20 May ban.

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