As we move into yet another week of Adjusted Alert Level 4 Lockdown, we again see our FreshStop sales and forecourt volumes being affected. During the past year, we have fought hard to ensure the survival of our business and livelihood; and we have also lost many of our family, friends and colleagues to this terrible virus.
We all know the risks of the virus and I know that we, as a team, have been leading the industry with our application of COVID-19 compliance measures. Together with Astron Energy, the FreshStop Franchise Forum, Franchise Advisory Council and suppliers, we have ensured PPE availability and communication and information via webinars, MS Teams Meetings, training and on-going updates.
The reason for my communication is to commit our on-going support and to help guide you to stay safe and continue to be the No 1 c-store brand in the country. Our COVID-19 Assault Team has met through all the various lockdown Levels and it has again started to send out information related to the latest changes to our lockdown levels.
In addition to the on-going struggle with the pandemic, South Africa has just been hit with terrible unrest and looting. President Cyril Ramaphosa has called it some of the worst violence witnessed in South Africa since the 1990s. KZN and Gauteng were the most affected. Here are some of the statistics to date:
- Over 330 deaths and an estimated R50 billion impact on the national GDP
- More than 200 shopping malls looted, approx. 3,000 stores, and thousands of businesses looted, damaged or destroyed
- Major highways blocked and the formation of neighbourhood watches
- Fuel and food shortages AND 150,000 possible job losses!!! On top of this, we have another taxi war in the Western Cape.
The looting and disruption has resulted in many convenience stores in the industry destroyed or damaged; with many more having to close due to them being under high risk. The results of all this disruption, in addition to trying to manage the pandemic, will be shortages during the next few months. Our industry will be expected to be open and stocked for convenience trading, and we will be expected to be up-and-running as normal from yesterday.
With KZN being at the forefront of the riots, Nivern and his A-Team made certain the warehouse was protected, ensured the safety and security of colleagues, arranged product supply for stores, and quickly activated the Projects Team to reopen stores. They also provided refreshments for community clean up teams and the vulnerable.
FreshStop has always been a Fast Moving, Flexible, Fresh and Friendly Brand. Now is our opportunity to again shine in times of despair. Our customers, our communities and our colleagues need us to be leaders in our place of business. Our COVID-19 Assault Team has brought in more retailers with experience and knowledge to assist and guide us. And we have taken the decision to change the name of the team to the COVID-19 and Crisis Committee Assault Team. Again, we initially met every day and when the need was required.
Our agendas have included issues such as the protection of our colleagues and customers; communications; securing of properties; product supply; rebuilding of stores and forecourts; and helping our communities.
Should you need any concerns addressed, please raise them via your FreshStop BC or email Nolu on firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject heading – COVID-19 & Crisis Committee.