Keep calm and carry on – surviving lockdown

How Synergy Retail Support have evolved and continued to operate during the Coronavirus pandemic.

As I write this we are still in lockdown, albeit in the initial stages of lockdown easing. As we all know, the past couple of months have been tragic and terrifying for so many. I hope as you read this, you and those close to you are coping well in the current conditions.

As an individual I have shared the same concerns for myself, my friends and my family but as a business owner I have the added responsibility of ensuring employee safety and allaying their concerns over job security. I am relieved to report that everyone in the Synergy family are well and have responded to the current situation with amazing resolve and ingenuity. I am extremely proud of the Synergy workforce in these times.

I thought it may be interesting to highlight some of the practices and costs we have implemented to adapt to current conditions.

Safety of our employees

We have a workforce of over 280 people, most based on the production floor which makes social distancing an interesting conundrum. To overcome this we evolved our shifts to 24 hours, split departments to alternate days, halved the people taking breaks at any one time and we keep everyone 2 metres apart. Everyone has their own PPE in the form of gloves, hand sanitiser and masks and everyone is required to report any symptoms and self-isolate immediately.

Safety of site visitors

Being classed as key workers, we have continued to fulfil our client’s orders which also means accepting new stock and working with couriers. To keep site visitors such as delivery drivers safe our security team are passing on specific instructions relating to each visitor. Everyone is appreciating and respecting our desire to be safe.

Business continuity & furlough

When lockdown first came into effect it had a direct impact on an unprecedented number of businesses. With few exceptions, unless you had an online revenue stream income came to a shuddering halt, crippling businesses big and small all over the world.  Synergy have been fortunate to be well established, with a diverse range of customers and financial stability to weather the storm. That’s not to say it wasn’t a scary time for us, we lost significant business with our high street clients being closed but we also saw large growth from new online customers wishing to on-board at speed. Our engagement team have always ensured Synergy has a solid footing and thank God no-one has lost their job or been furloughed; we are still recruiting and re-training people in the online areas of our business.

How our business has changed

Corona has forced us to be even more flexible than we usually are to pivot operations at breakneck speed. As an owner run, opportunity-led company, we will do whatever it takes to facilitate a client wishes and support growth which is in all of our interests.

As there is a large amount of manual labour in our business, we’ve had to be flexible with operations on the production floor and we’ve also been able to enable several staff to work from home. Corona has certainly re-written the rule book to the extent we will be looking at our disaster recovery plan in a whole new light very soon.

The cost of corona

The initial loss of business made a significant dent in our revenue streams, but we do hope to re-establish much of that as lockdown eases. The cost of providing PPE, changing shift patterns, overtime and the inefficiencies of working in uncharted times has run in to six figures and was a surprise to the business but one we gladly absorbed to keep our people safe and well.

I have been lucky enough to have a caring workforce, stable business and a strong management team which has enabled Synergy Retail Support to remain operational and service our clients in these unprecedented times.

I hope you have been able to do similar.

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Gary Rees

Gary Rees

Gary Rees is the owner of Synergy Retail Support, one of the leading SME fulfilment centres in the UK. Having successfully grown the business for over 30 years and with relationships with most household brands, he now looks to partner with customers rather than just act as a supplier so that both parties can grow together. Gary has extensive knowledge in retail compliance, production technologies, shipping details and customer service.

Feel free to contact me personally if you’d like to discuss your business.

01604 412 290