Marie Parry, group marketing director, Scolmore Group, looks at the steps the company has taken through the coronavirus crisis and how it is operating under a ‘new normal’.
These are without doubt the most challenging times that our industry, the country and the world has faced in the last century. It is now more than 100 days since the country was placed into lockdown and our way of working and living was changed overnight beyond recognition. As we start to emerge from the tight restrictions of lockdown, we are learning to embrace a new way of working that puts the safety of our employees, customers and suppliers at the forefront of everything we do.
When we look back to early February we were still talking about coronavirus as something that was happening in China. When it became apparent in March that the UK was heading for an enforced lockdown, we needed to urgently prepare ourselves for the challenges that were coming. With a company the size the Scolmore Group – in excess of 250 employees – and working across a number of sites in the UK – Tamworth and Redditch in the Midlands, as well as Glasgow – there was a considerable amount of planning and organisation required to work out how best we could keep the company operating in this new environment.
By the time total lockdown was announced on Monday, March 23, the entire workforce was either working from home or placed on furlough. A lot of work had already been undertaken to ensure all the right equipment, systems and procedures were in place to allow members of the various teams to work safely and securely from their new home environments.
Like many others, we were faced with a sudden and dramatic fall in orders, as construction work was put on hold and wholesale counters decided to close in line with government guidelines. As we continued to make plans behind the scenes for how best to keep the business going during the early days, we focussed a lot of attention on communicating with our wholesale customers, contractors and installers via direct marketing as well via the various digital platforms. We wanted to let them know that we remained open for business and also wanted to provide them with some valuable resources that they could use during the time when they were unable to work.
Working with a much scaled back operation, and with the safety of our staff a priority, we were able to continue to supply our full range of products to the professional electrical market, through the wholesale channel. We have always had the ability to hold vast stock levels which means that we were able to continue to fulfil orders from across the group, with our full range of wiring accessories from Scolmore, lighting and lighting control products from Ovia, security and fire protection products from ESP and cable accessory products from Unicrimp all currently available.
We appreciate that there are many in the industry who have been unable to work, but we believe that this can be seen as an opportunity to spend time we may not normally have, to catch up on some of the latest industry news and developments, get up to speed with recent new product developments and legislation, and maybe even to add to our skillset.
Across the Scolmore Group of companies there is a wealth of resources that contractors and wholesalers can access. Each group company website hosts a vast range of products, including range catalogues as well as technical specification brochures. Product videos that make it easy to understand the workings of individual products can be accessed on YouTube.
There are case studies demonstrating how products from the group have been specified and installed to provide solutions for specific projects and these include the recent use of our Mode antimicrobial wiring accessories at a newly expanded emergency care unit. The ‘in the press’ sections provide some in-depth articles covering a range of topics from smart solutions, to fire-rated downlights safety.
We are now at the beginning of July and the country is learning to live with a ‘new normal’. Every aspect of our working environment has been affected as we have had to implement all the necessary measures to ensure that social distancing and hygiene standards are met across all departments and at all points of interaction.
As restrictions continue to be gradually lifted and with building projects being resumed, we are seeing a steady increase in orders coming through. However, with a local lockdown currently in force in Leicester, we are only too aware that we all remain in a precarious situation and we will be taking the progress we are making one day at a time.