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23 July 2020

United resilience in the face of a global pandemic

United resilience in the face of a global pandemic

A blog by Dr Mark Carr, CEO of AB Sugar

The global outbreak of Covid-19 has brought unprecedented challenges - the impact has been felt all over the world and in all industries, and whilst some nations are emerging from their restrictions, there are many countries continuing to weather the storm and undergoing further lockdown measures. As an international business with teams in all corners of the world, from southern Africa to China, the USA and Europe, it has never been more important that we unite as one to adapt, listen and learn from each other.

Remaining resilient for not only our people but our customers too has been a key priority in order to protect food supply chains. When demand has been at its highest maintaining our deliveries, whilst navigating logistical challenges as border controls and differing country lockdown guidelines across Africa, has required huge tenacity and innovation. I have been incredibly humbled by how we have all pulled together to respond efficiently and appropriately to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic.

 

Staying connected, working together

Given the geographical expanse of our business, staying connected during Covid-19 has been more vital than ever, enabling teams to share and evolve their local strategies as many external factors change beyond their control. A huge challenge has been the complex and unpredictable way this pandemic has spread in each country. Firstly, in China, where our team were the first to experience strict lockdown measures, soon followed by Europe, the USA and southern Africa. However, by communicating closely to our AB Sugar China colleagues in the early stages of the pandemic, we were able to implement essential learnings about how to apply guidelines, manage dynamic policy changes and continue to protect and connect with our people.

Each of our countries of operation have unique characteristics, which made adapting and applying any key learnings at a local level even more important. We equipped our leaders with additional training on resilience, and shared vital information with our people on how we can use technology across our supply chain to drive business continuity. One example of this is in China, where the agriculture team continued to negotiate with growers in the remote northern regions of the country to contract the crop for the coming campaign over digital channels despite there being strict lockdown measures in place.

Despite it being a time of unprecedented uncertainty, all our businesses have continued to deliver to our customers, whilst continuing to do what they can for our people and their families. When orders have been at an all-time high, our teams at Germains have demonstrated the flexibility and comradery to pull together and fulfil all distribution requirements to meet customer needs. In addition, safety has been a paramount focus for us in every market, from supporting the production of hand sanitiser in the UK to equipping our medical facilities in southern Africa with equipment and PPE stocks. We have received support from across our supply chain too, with our growers spraying disinfectant on the roads around one of our factories in Spain.

Looking ahead

Despite the enormous personal and professional challenges this period has brought, our people and supply chains have adapted and continue to meet the challenges of Covid-19 head on, remaining resilient throughout.

This pandemic is far from over and continues to evolve, with some of our operating countries experiencing new or second outbreaks, as well as further local lockdowns. Despite this, we will continue to operate safely whilst delivering our product to customers and consumers.  

Read more about how our businesses are currently managing the pandemic in their local markets here.

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