As part of a series of interviews with businesses in the preschool sector, PreschoolNews.net speaks to Elliot Bishop, CEO of bébélephant, one of the UK’s largest independent distributors for the nursery sector, about how they and their business are fairing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Firstly – how are you and your team – we hope safe and well?
As a London based company, we are located in the current ‘hotspot’ so not exactly ideal. That said, we are all safe and well. I’ve had the loss of taste and smell which are now considered to be “features” of Covid-19, so maybe I’m out the woods, I certainly hope so.
What is the current state of play for your business – are you running a skeleton team, or temporarily sat-out for a few weeks? Are you able to fulfil orders?
It is important for us to stress we are 100% business as usual with a full team working from home. Our couriers are continuing to collect orders so we are able to fulfil every order we are receiving within our usual service standard. Similarly, or own inventory orders, from China in particular, are now starting to arrive; so there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel if the Far East are getting back to some level of normality.
Have you seen any spike in demand for any of your particular ranges?
We are the UK distributors for HotTea Mama – a herbal tea range created for new and expectant mothers. With tea being considered to be an essential, this range in particular has seen a certain spike. Our toilet training seat has also been popular as parents use this time at home to train their little ones, but generally speaking, our overall trade has only suffered a fall off from the minority of retailers who do not have an online presence.
Are you finding that your retail accounts are still attempting to trade, even to a small local degree?
For sure – those with a strong online presence have risen to the challenge. Those without are taking the time to recalibrate their business to cater more for online, or just do a website refresh which may have been overlooked until now.
Have you been able to offer any additional support measures for those retailers?
We continue to offer low or no MOQ across our ranges and carriage paid on certain ranges, such as the BabyHub SleepSpace and new NeoSpace. We have extended lines of credit where possible too. We are also able to drop ship for retailers where required.
What is your (hopefully positive) outlook for when we reach the other side of this?
At a macro level, I think we will be a stronger nation for this; hopefully with less reliance on imports and more confidence to work agile. As with war time generally, and having discussed with many retailers, we predict a mini economic boom once employment situations normalise and a baby boom next year – which can only be good for the economy generally and at a micro level for our own sector.