The Board of Directors and management of Famous Brands have been vigilantly monitoring the Covid19 situation since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020.
Across all our trading jurisdictions, we fully endorse the various governments’ decisive actions to contain the spread and impact of the pandemic. Within our company we are committed to managing business continuity and providing an uninterrupted service to our customers while safeguarding our people and ensuring the well-being of the communities we trade in. As a business with a significant footprint in our various markets we are very mindful of our responsibility to prioritise the safety and good health of all our stakeholders.
In this regard the following measures have been instituted:
- A crisis leadership team comprising of the Group Executive Committee has been established to monitor and immediately respond to the situation as it develops. A phased crisis and risk management plan has been developed in terms of managing and mitigating events depending on their level of severity.
- An extensive communication programme has been implemented across our operations to ensure that all relevant educational information regarding the pandemic is distributed throughout the business on an ongoing basis.
- Strict protocols have been implemented in terms of social distancing, reducing non-essential domestic and international travel, and enabling remote working where practical.
- Maintaining food safety and hygiene is an integral part of the daily discipline in our business. Accordingly, we are accustomed to safeguarding our environments against bacteria through strong operational and hygiene protocols which comply with industry best practice. We will continue to implement our rigorous controls and intensify these regimes as appropriate.
- A support network is in place for our franchise partners in terms of minimising disruption and ensuring consistency of supply through our manufacturing and logistics operations.
IMPLICATIONS OF EMERGENCY LEGISLATION ON BUSINESS CONTINUITY
To date, the Group’s Supply Chain operations have not experienced significant disruptions. However, commencing 1 March 2020 in the UK and 16 March 2020 in SA, there has been a notable slow down in store sales activity.
Initial indications are that sales have deteriorated steadily over the first three weeks of March as government measures take effect on restricting consumer activity. Those markets in which the virus has been prevalent for longer have been most affected, including England, Ireland and the UAE. At this point, there has also been a concerning decline in sales in SA with some temporary restaurant closures locally, as well as in Mauritius and Kenya, due to the decline in trading volumes in those specific markets.
We anticipate that the measures legislated by the Co-operative Governance Ministry in SA, (18 March 2020), will have further significant implications for our Signature (evening dining) brands specifically. The new legislation specifies that all bars, restaurants and shebeens which serve alcohol must either refrain from serving alcohol from 18h00, or close between 18h00 and 09h00 the following day. Furthermore, such establishments are not permitted to host more than 50 people at the same time.
In light of this legislation and the general impact of the virus on customer behaviour which has seen reduced footfall in shopping centres and restaurants generally, we anticipate that our online and delivery offering will experience higher than traditional levels of usage, and accordingly, measures have been put in place to upweight our capacity in that regard. With regard to our intensified hygiene protocols, we have also implemented a policy of no-contact delivery for orders paid online, in terms of which our delivery drivers will maintain a practical distance when delivering orders and limit any physical contact with customers. Our third-party delivery partners have committed to the same protocols.
In compliance with instruction issued by the government on Friday, 20 March regarding further preventative measures in the hospitality industry, all GBK company-owned restaurants and Wimpy franchised restaurants in the UK have been closed with effect from Saturday, 21 March. Selected GBK and Wimpy restaurants will attempt to remain open to service the home delivery market, but the viability of this option is unclear at this stage. Management will monitor the situation closely for both operations.
Given the prevailing instability in our trading markets, it is difficult to project with accuracy the impact of the pandemic on the business. However, the Board and management anticipate that trading over the coming weeks will become increasingly difficult and will undoubtedly result in significantly reduced like-for-like sales.
Across our business we will continue to enforce the necessary disciplines and protocols required to curb and slow the spread of the coronavirus, taking guidance from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, the WHO and the Department of Health to inform our approach.
Stakeholders will continue to be updated as the situation develops.