Hippychick’s sales manager Alan Houghton speaks to PreschoolNews.net about the challenges of the last few weeks and how the nursery and toy distributor is preparing for retail to start opening up again.
How has business been for you throughout the lockdown period? How have you addressed the changes?
“Surprisingly it has been very busy from the retailers that are able to operate online. All of our toy and some of our nursery brands have been in high demand and maintaining stock levels has been challenging due to the production and delivery delays during the crisis. We have furloughed some staff to ensure they and their families are protected and to ensure there is a safe working environment in line with the government guidelines and that safe working practices are adhered to for the skeleton team that are currently working in the office.”
What plans are you putting in place for 15 June, when retail will begin opening up again? How will that affect your current operations?
“We are excited and looking forward to engaging with our retailers as they start to open back up, especially the physical stores, as this side of the trade business has stopped dead in its tracks. We have also made sure that stock will be replenished throughout June and the summer months to meet the expected increase in demand for our key brands.”
What do you think the consumer mood will be on the high street? Will there be good news for independents?
“We think the consumer mood will be very positive and as lockdown measures ease further they will be pleased to be able to venture out to the high street and visit the retailers again for their purchases. We truly hope that independent retailers will see an increase in footfall and will be busier than ever before as we come out of this crisis over the coming months.”
How do you expect the rest of the year and early 2021 to look at this stage?
“Based on what we have seen so far, we hope the rest of this year and early 2021 will be positive as we ease out of lockdown and more retail stores and sectors re-open.”
What are you most looking forward to as lockdown eases, both professionally and personally?
“We are looking forward to engaging and connecting with the retail partners that we have been unable to work with over the past few months, as well as attending consumer and trade shows and gradually returning to a sense of normality. All of us here, just like everyone else, cannot wait to be able to meet up with our families and socialise again as lockdown eases.”
Pictured: Hippychick’s team stay safe – and distant – at work.