EXCLUSIVE: Wholesalers accused of failing to comply with Covid rules

Industry sources have claimed 'some smaller wholesalers' have received complaints about lax Covid measures in depots

Wholesale depot warehouse covid coronavirus masks

Retailers have urged wholesalers to be more vigilant on coronavirus guidelines in cash and carries, following reports of declining enforcement levels.

Store owners told Better Retailing the social distancing and hygiene measures at depots this month were noticeably more relaxed in comparison to those in April 2020.

One retailer said: “My wholesaler used to be very strict, but I’ve noticed social distancing at my cash and carry isn’t great any more.

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“Customers aren’t following the two-metre guidelines. Other businesses in the sector are becoming much stricter with the rules, and cash and carries need to follow to help prevent further cases.”

Another retailer said their nearest Costco branch had stopped sanitising trollies after use.

Despite the criticism, other retailers praised their wholesalers for maintaining enforcement levels seen at the start of the pandemic.

Ketul Desai, of The General Store in north London, said: “Booker has been quite good. I go to two cash and carries in London and they’ve got notices up everywhere. They’re on top of stressing the importance of following guidelines.”

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One senior industry source said: “I’m aware some of the larger national wholesalers, such as Bestway, are still implementing guidelines well. However, it’s some of the smaller wholesalers that have been getting complaints about Covid measures.”

Bestway managing director Dawood Pervez told Better Retailing the wholesaler has made face masks mandatory in depots and is reviewing its guidance daily. “We can confidently say that we are working to both the latest government guidelines and those recommended by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors.”

A Booker spokesperson said: “Since the start of the pandemic, we have focused on ensuring everyone can get what they need in a safe environment. To protect our customers and colleagues, we won’t let anyone into our branches who is not wearing a face covering, unless they are exempt in line with government guidance.

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“Our colleagues are working hard in difficult circumstances to make sure everyone can get what they need, and we ask everyone to be kind, patient and respectful as we work to keep each other safe.”

Craig Brown, chief sales and marketing officer of wholesaler Filshill, told Better Retailing the firm has advised its retailers to close temporarily during deliveries to help minimise risk of contact between the drivers, staff and customers.

The pressure on wholesalers to act comes as Morrisons, Aldi, Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have implemented stricter enforcement on customers in stores.

Find out more on our coronavirus information hub for retailers


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