GLASGOW food wholesaler Lomond: The Wholesale Food Co has seen trading rebound after sales slumped to 45 per cent of pre-Covid levels one year ago when much of the foodservice and hospitality industry shut down or scaled back due to the pandemic.
The business, which achieved 98% of its pre-Covid sales during June despite 400 of its regular customers still waiting to reopen post-pandemic, said that the performance was ahead of predictions.
Lomond directors Sam and Barbara Henderson noted that their acquisition of the Hall’s Direct wholesale distribution business in 2017 had enabled the company to diversify into the convenience retail market and also supply fresh meat and poultry to independent butchers. “We did not realise then how significant that acquisition would be in a Covid world,” said Mrs Henderson.
“While our foodservice business took a downturn, we were still servicing retailer Scotmid, other independent convenience stores and high street butchers so we didn’t go below 45% because diversifying when we did gave us a level of protection when Covid hit.”
Mrs Henderson said that Lomond’s field sales team was retained when the business was restructured in April 2020 with flexible furlough enabling ongoing support for customers during the pandemic and as volumes increased. “This has been invaluable, allowing us to retain our staff and keep costs low, while our customers continued to trade, often with significantly lower volumes,” she said.
“Having our team on the ground, albeit working restricted hours, has meant we not only have offered support to our existing customer base but we’ve been able to attract more than 500 new customers during the pandemic, which we’ve maintained through our focus on quality products, pricing and the best customer support.”
Diversifying the business was a strategic decision to create a “more robust and resilient” business. Mrs Henderson noted: “It has stood us in good stead as even when our foodservice customers were unable to trade, we were able to continue with our retail and butchery ranges which enabled us to maintain core volume and stock lines which in turn has helped us to attract, and maintain, new customers.”
Meanwhile, Lomond: The Wholesale Food Co has added six electric vehicles to its company car fleet with a target to switch the full sales team over to electric cars by the end the year as it continues rolling out its sustainability programme.
The family business is also investing in 20 new 7.5-tonne hybrid refrigeration commercial vehicles and will be trialling a fully-electric vehicle in November in the Glasgow area to coincide with the global COP26 climate change conference.
Lomond has further enhanced its green credentials by installing an air curtain door on its 1,000-pallet freezer chamber which prevents the escape of cold air and saves energy. This follows a decision to source locally where possible to reduce emissions and support local businesses.
“We continue to take an active decision to source as many products locally as we can,” said Mrs Henderson. “Not only is this supporting our local economy, we’re also reducing the environmental impact of transporting goods further afield.
“As an example, we now stock a range of Scottish chicken which historically has been sourced from Brazil or Thailand. We have since evolved this by connecting the Scottish raw poultry supplier with a Scottish meat processor who is now supplying us with cooked chicken products made to our specification under our own label.”