Cash challenge

Sir, In these extraordinary times, we all face ever more challenges as the government takes the dramatic actions necessary to protect the health of the population. This Tuesday, the Chancellor announced measures to help businesses continue to function. But little was announced in support of manufacturers, particularly those of food and drink.

Our most significant challenge now is managing cash. We need cash to pay salaries and to protect jobs. We need cash to react quickly as demand profiles change and we need cash to face up to the new challenge of employees following guidelines on self-isolation and coping with school closures. The Chancellor has not directly addressed this, instead offering debt solutions that are unattractive to small businesses. However, we may have the means to address these challenges within our own industry.

The solution lies in payment terms. At present, we have to wait many weeks and often months for retailers to pay for goods supplied. Surely now is the time for large retailers to step up and pay their smaller suppliers quickly? If major retailers paid small manufacturers within seven days of invoice, thousands of the tiny cogs that are so vital to the UK supply machine would receive the much-needed cash to allow them to address current difficulties and keep the wheels turning.

Simon Baldry, director and owner, Primrose’s Kitchen/Woodstar

Working together

Sir, One of the biggest public concerns regarding the coronavirus outbreak has been whether household and food products will be in constant supply. This week we have seen food retailers such as Iceland, McDonald’s, Sainsbury’s and Tesco really stepping up for the greater good. It is at difficult times like these where consumers can regain trust with the food brands they know.

Although retailers cannot stop people from panic-buying and stockpiling, they can do their best to help ensure there is enough to go around for everyone in a calm and reassuring manner. Forget competing with each other on the latest price war, they have come together and asked their customers to support each other to make sure everyone has the products they need, and this is an important step in the right direction.

Erris de Stacpoole, PR lead, Publicis Groupe UK