In conversation with Coca-Cola

Published on: Wed, 11 Nov 2020
By: Laura, redwigwam

As the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March, businesses around the UK were forced to adapt to unprecedented circumstances.

We caught up with Oliver Crick from Coca-Cola European Partners to chat about the impact of Covid-19, how a pilot scheme with redwigwam has helped improve ROI and why flexible working has become the key to the post-lockdown way of life.

redwigwam: In terms of overall business performance how have you been affected by the pandemic?

Oliver: Large sections of the industry such as pubs, bars, leisure facilities, cafés were either shut down or were operating at a lower capacity which means a reduction in sales.  These are starting to open up again but demand is not yet back pre-Covid levels.

Supermarket demand though has increased and we are seeing people shop differently and buy bigger packs and more volume in one go.  The weekly big shop has returned and more people are moving online. The over 50s and 60s who didn’t previously shop via e-commerce, have done and are likely to stick to it. Equally, people are naturally eating more In the home and so takeaway food has seen a surge.  So, businesses need to be agile enough to react to the challenges but also the opportunities this presents.

redwigwam: In terms of staffing, what measures have you undertaken during COVID-19 to ensure the demand for your products is met? Have flexible teams played a part?

Oliver: Looking at March, when COVID-19 was becoming a challenge and starting to impact retail, we pulled our Field Sales team out of stores and off the road and moved to either home working or a period of leave.  We went back into store at the start of June and our workforce has naturally demanded more flexibility from us - and we’ve provided that.  People whose schools have shut down, who have lost childcare, who have elderly relatives have all had their lives change and it’s important that we help them and support them in managing an effective work/life balance to ensure they stay safe and well.

Every business will feel more cost pressure at the moment because of the changes we are experiencing, therefore it's increasingly important that we take every opportunity to drive our revenue forward and a Field Sales team play a key role in this.  One way we have done that is to look at opportunities in stores where we currently have vacancies and a pilot with redwigwam has helped us look at how we can put In place short-term cover until we recruit our own people. This ensures we don’t miss revenue opportunities with a resourcing model that complements our in-house team rather than replacing it.

redwigwam: Looking to the future do you think the shape of your teams will change at all? 

Oliver: I think the main change we will see is increased flexibility being provided and a bigger focus on the wellbeing of the teams to ensure everyone can manage their work/life balance better.  I think one learning we have all taken from lockdown is that there is more to life than simply going to work, but when we are here we need to create an environment where people can succeed.

When the teams are in store I think we will continue to see an increased focus on the revenue we drive and the ROI of the time we spend in-store, so data and insight will be key but also having the right capability plans In place to ensure the teams can unlock the opportunities.

redwigwam: How have your teams been affected by the pandemic, and do you think there will be any changes staying with us for good?

Oliver: We will definitely take forward the learnings from lockdown, especially retaining the focus on the wellbeing of the teams and most importantly ensuring we really listen to the team's views and feedback so we can support in the best way. I also think it's important to recognise that everyone has their own personal circumstances and so you can't and shouldn’t try to provide a one size fits all.  What's important is you provide the information, the support networks, and the flexibility that enables the teams to return to work effectively and in a way they are comfortable doing.

I think the demand for flexibility in how we work will increase in the next few years, but because of the nature of retail that isn’t a bad thing, our customers are open 7 days a week, shopping habits are changing… and research suggests about half of people will retain their new habits… and so we will have to be agile to ensure we can continue to drive revenue at a local level with our field teams.

redwigwam: Lastly, what advice would you give someone who is looking to work in the FMCG sector? 

Oliver: My advice would be to recognise that there is a difference between doing a task and doing a great job. We had a really good example shared by somebody who filled one of the vacancies for us from redwigwam. Their attitude was fantastic and they worked with real positive intent. Their task was to merchandise a fridge… what they actually did was build a great relationship with the store, looked for other areas they could support on our brands while they were there and of course, they did a great job merchandising the fridge - this left the store with a really good impression of CCEP. And for me, that was the difference between going in and doing a task issued on an iPhone and going and doing a really good job and representing the company and the brand really well.

So recognise what doing a good job looks like but also make sure you’re able to communicate effectively and build relationships with your contacts. Because if you do that it will massively impact what you can deliver.

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