After lockdown was announced on the 23rd March we took the decision to reduce operations. We took early action because we couldn’t continue to ensure the safety of our teams and customers. We immediately took our haulage fleet off the road, maintaining skeleton branch teams to support the customers supplying essential services.
Through lockdown staff worked with customers to supply over 2,000 tonnes of scaffolding. Most notably, using Generation’s scaffolding to build the Nightingale Hospitals and more poignantly the temporary morgues alongside them.
Fast forward to August 2020 and the UK and operations have returned to a socially distanced normal. Our fleet of 70 vehicles are back on the road supported by account, branch and operation teams back in their branches and offices.
We are not complacent and COVID19 remains a threat. We have implemented safe working, maintaining social distancing in all our branches. We are also working with customers and staff to find new and better ways to do things.
In lockdown, we found scheduled branch pick-up and deliveries meant we were able to provide a far better service and turnaround time. We continue to support ad-hoc drop ins but now give a priority service to customers who have an allocated time-slot.
We have increased account support within the branches providing customers with access to SmartScaff and estimating tools. Field sales are no longer making unscheduled meetings, and they can be contacted to scheduled virtual or face to face meetings to discuss projects, equipment needs and quotations.
We are also investing in our digital operations launching Live Chat and improving our online quote builder as clients make increasing use of our website.
As part of a complete COVID19 business review we also took the hard decision to close our Wakefield training centre. We have been working with staff, apprentices and partner training providers to make sure all our commitments and contracts are honoured. Very sadly we will be closing down the site from the 28th August 2020. The decision enables us to focus on our core hire and sale services keeping prices as low as possible.
More positively we are experiencing a rapid increase in demand for scaffolding, edge protection, temporary fencing and groundworks as construction returns. BarbourABI supports our view, reporting a 64% increase in July contract awards. The residential and infrastructure sector dominates, but even the embattled hotel and leisure sector grew by 120% month on month.
There has been some pressure on supplies. The shutdown could lead to shortages of key equipment, especially scaffolding boards with the US and far east markets taking capacity. We are working hard with our suppliers to ensure you are not affected.
Going forward from lockdown and COVID19 our aim is to always be improving the service and value we create for you and your business.
Our continuing commitment is to continue to supply quality equipment, when and where you need it, providing you with the best price and value.