HPP has now been open 16 weeks since the national lockdown was lifted in May and even before that time we were busy making sure staff, customers and visitors were safe during production and distribution processes at our Oldham and Sheffield sites.
Here's what we're doing in adapting to the current circumstances.
We've been making sure all staff are aware of the latest guidelines with regards to safe working conditions: regular departmental updates, signage and restrictions in communal areas reinforce the government advice. We've installed Perspex screens to all office desks, separated desks where possible and removed barriers that created departmental spaces, yet under the circumstances would not allow effective social distancing. Continuous assessment of working practices and regular education of staff will remain in place for as long as guidelines suggest is practically possible, above and beyond health and safety measures already in place. Everything is focused on minimising close contact, ensuring desks, equipment and products have minimal multiple contacts and are suitably cleaned to prevent any contamination.
As well as serving the fitted furniture industry on a national basis, our trade counters at the Oldham and Sheffield sites allow local trade customers the opportunity to collect fittings and other off-the-shelf stock items. Naturally there are some restrictions and limitations to the operation of these areas, as there is potential multiple-person interaction that we need to minimise as much as possible.
Our trade counters are designated as retail outlets, and as such, customers should wear a form of face covering when entering these areas. There are protective screens in place for the staff to work behind, suitably distanced floor markings for people to wait at, as well as limits on the number of people in the trade counters at any one time. We have also put restrictions on access to product displays that may be a source of contamination.
Our regional sales managers are conducting meetings with their customers via phone or video conferencing, and currently any supplier meetings that would normally have been conducted on site are also being done remotely.
We've worked hard to ensure that our products reach customers as quickly and as safely as possible, using our own fleet and drivers as well as our external delivery partners. There are some obvious additional steps to delivery handovers at the moment, as we continue to safeguard customers and staff.
Demands on the business
Since the national lockdown was relaxed, demand for products has been difficult to forecast, as our trade customers have reopened their businesses. This has provided some challenges in getting products to customers as quickly as we would have liked, and we're mindful of doing that whilst keeping staff safe in the production areas.
Having made various internal adaptations we are now in a better position to work in the current circumstances and are confident of returning to more stable operations within the coming days.
We are mindful of local restrictions currently in place, and that may be placed on us in the future. Currently there are no restrictions on HPP continuing to operate as normal; we are working closely with health officials to ensure this remains the case.
The next few months will undoubtedly be a very testing time; with a constantly shifting outlook both on a national and local scale, it is uncertain how the KBB industry will fare, and what impacts will be placed upon it. But here at HPP we are ready to accept those challenges and are well-placed to adapt quickly as and when required.
Looking to the future
As things change, we'll review our plans and operational strategy accordingly. If 2020 has demonstrated anything, it's that nothing is certain and it's vitally important that businesses have the ability to adapt quickly and efficiently to rapidly-changing circumstances. Smooth transitions and clear communication are essential, together with the support & understanding from customers, suppliers and staff.
We are committed to keeping staff and customers safe, whilst continuing to operate and supply the fitted furniture industry and we'll continue to adapt our operational procedures as the national and local situation progresses.