Episode 68 CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL Jennifer Wood Canton Tea
Welcome to this special edition of the humans of hospitality. Pot cast where I am going to chat with Canton and this very specific edition around what they are doing in response to the corona virus and the huge impact. It's had on their business a little bit further up the supply chain the coalface of hospitality because they are a supplier of t to hospitality businesses and I was really impressed. Recently when I saw some of pivots they were making around how to stay afloat in these challenging conditions. So I wanted to get Jennifer quick chat. This is recorded on Wednesday the twenty fifth of March. And we're getting it straight up because things are changing daily so You know excuse. Any slightly rough edits audio challenges. But I hope you enjoy it. Check out the website humans of Hospitality Dot Co Two K. For some links that we discuss at the end of the show. Okay many things Jennifer from Canton. Say thank you so much for joining me on this special edition of the podcast very much. Appreciate it nice to have thanks. Thank you We'll see recording this Remotely but I just want to. Also I WANNA chat We've all seen a lot about how The Corona virus governor for how it's affecting hospitality sort of the Front Line Abbott. I've not seen so macho by obviously how. It's impacting all the suppliers. What is that so I I want to chat with you about that? But in the first instance it felt very much like we were sort of watching this situation. Unfold IN SLOW MOTION. We saw what was happening in. China and then start to row across towards Europe. Was there a particular point or particular trigger? Where you will. This is going to have a huge impact on on my business and I'm going to have to take the seriousness. Yes sent me was. I was actually a way I was abroad due to come back on Tuesday the sixteen and as soon as we heard that trump was closing flights between your America even though they were then opened the UK We had to come back through America so we immediately changed all flights and came back on Fridays eighteen. Instead go back and over that weekend everything started to unravel and by Monday. It was pretty much catastrophic and understood. Exactly what the impact is going to be on a small independent supplier to the hospitality trade? So we've always focused at Canton while not always Nassir years. We've really focused on the hospitality sector. So we haven't had a consumer website available and so as soon as we connected with all star. It was you know again to do whatever we can to get through this. We don't know how it's going to You know how it how it's going to progress in the next few weeks but then day by day it was just chop chop chop everywhere. Everyone is just getting down closing until was also I was gonna say because what was it that you saw. I was this people. Cancelling existing orders or. Was it not true what what was happening? No I think it was It was mostly just the directives of claridge's you know who was who was allowed to stay open and it was just a sort of drip between the cafes in the restaurants and the hotels. That's what I'm saying but talking. We were talking to all our Partners during that week and even though they were still open some of them still allowed to be open that they've been told that no one should go see them. They were fantastic. The warm and supportive and delighted to hear from US and this sort of collaborative spirit between everyone even even beginning was very very strong But I think my lowest point during that week was by Friday when we'd heard nothing from the government about retaining staff and we were thinking of just putting the whole thing into suspended animation which is virtually what we've done but then not that we have a tool every morning everybody together on zoom and that morning it really was the guys we know what we can do again to do whatever we can we pay you up into the end of this month of course and then we'll just have to see but we want to make sure that there's GonNa be a cantoned combat to not was absolutely the nice important message and then by that evening that was of course this government initiative to to support stoff salaries wages for eighty percent. So we've actually retained everybody on this. This new employment seem. We haven't lost a single person but everyone is on. You know understands the situation and on permanent employees well full full and part-time about well about it is exactly. There are ten of us so as it stood Friday morning it was a case of not not saying not letting them go but just only having the money to pay for one month and by the evening it was okay at least as a way out for. Oh my God I mean the sense of relief. Yes I was lights out quite emotional video a couple of days before I saw it. Yes he has ever supposed to be internal and then we feel to it and share it and losing one hundred people in the next day We still need to see the details about soloing Silang. That's what it is a finite worker word. None of us probably knew days ago to it for the hope that it achieves a everything that it says it will eventually because they stopped it kind of in in China. Much as I don't WANNA be Cool that the Chinese flew for Fraum it but some way you in pool I guess from that side of the world at this already saw to have an impact on the supply chain. Did you sort of see this coming on? Yes to an extent and we had a shipment container shipment already in luckily before things got too bad in China so we have a lot of stock and we were in a in a good position that we didn't need to have Much more from China for a little while and we will so. It's not just China because English breakfast and various other tastes. We have tastes from India. Dodging son cools and some Kenya and Rwanda. So it's not even though we have thirty three tastic cool tease even Special D company like us English breakfast now. Great all by far and away the biggest sellers so in terms of actual levels of stock We were we were in a in a good position when this kicked off at any of the supply side that you wear. I'm trying to think of how close you all to supply China but you know whether he being impacted by keeping in touch with how they were working goal was to run too far ahead for that. Now we were. I mean obviously that their nominee impacted caught a on the on the ground in China Had to close six weeks. They went to reopen until it had a government inspection Not taking another two weeks And all sorts of stringent Operation's going on twitter yesterday a Feeling pretty optimistic that through the West well obviously through the vessel had no more domestic cases in China. Everyone going in is quarantined. Or if they're not if they haven't got vars sent hospital if they have. So yeah she's she's being amazingly supportive Throughout and is still harassing us. Basically going into the situation that they were in Moscow. Find it fascinating how they sort of come out with that. It's hard to comprehend how it doesn't just have a have a bounceback as soon as you let people sought to go back to their normal lives but I guess we're not Lee scientist so it's GonNa be to see whether Iran obviously hospitality right at the very beginning of the whole thing right the initial brutal assault. Maybe it will come back quicker. An annex can't People friends in other areas is notice. filter through much more slowly but then maybe hospitality will come back that much quicker than on the south true. Yeah we take cash Suppose we don't have to wait months for payments. That certainly helps. We've seen the city then around the support. Full the hospitality sector on the front lines repulsed by tally in various grounds and potentially access to loans loy debate in some ways. How USEFUL BE EVENTUALLY. How is so up? The supply chain will also so support. Are you getting whether that's Lonzo? Ground Sore. Even business rate relief is any of it. Filtering up yeah. Yeah definitely I mean we gain stateful the grant that on this ten thousand ground should be eligible for knowns. I. WE'RE GONNA need one. I think that's that's no question that Spoken to Bankin. Yes actually my colleague Mike Data is pretty much on the time and we just need to decide how much how long it's GonNa take payback on. How viable and all these things but at the moment I think the most important thing I mean all team just scrambled last week to come up with creative and and supportive and a collaborative effort. Not just the canton. But for the people we work with so we didn't think right. We're just going to close down and leave it there and then just sort of reemerge when all this horror is over. That was very much a sense of okay. What can we do in this time to keep canton a valid voice in the in the hospitality? Well and I mean the first thing we did. We just flipped off website. Which is Wholesale Onis Ev? It's not accessible to any. We flipped through the fastest e commerce site that you know sort of anyone of a well we've ever experienced so we we in twenty four hours. We got Nicole Masai site up and opened it up to absolutely everybody. Anyone can go on that site now and by the tea that they would drink in the cafes in restaurants in hotels and drinking at home and that was a stall. But we think. Oh this is great. And no one's GonNa know about it. We don't have a COSIMA following anymore. So the next thing was to tell p pulled tunnel trade partners about it thinking the vacant if they have a website or a through that social media following can tell you about it that would be great They will say the first thing we did is that Any any T- sold through our website so one pound will go to the hospitality action charity. You know the one that's on the nineteen emergency appeal up to two hundred and fifty pounds. I think hospitality professional who's been impacted by although applications. It closed at the moment. But I think with with the publicity they do in some of the things you another doing. Hopefully they will be able to reopen that but cy young and they'd be necessarily comedy's now ready while establish ready to have a chat with them very soon but but but well they going to say. This is one of the reasons I wanted to chat to. You is with how quickly You've managed to come up with some fairly novel ideas because it it sort of cross my and and I had a small child who was I remember one of the things you and I specifically spoke about where we chat on the podcast. A couple of months ago is how when you first often business. It was a scene a to see business and how challenging that was why you decided to focus on the hospitality Flick that back was was a big move. How how did it is so challenging delivering to lots of individual people? Does that mean? Can you do that within your existing infrastructure? And you're listening team. Will Tab angry people you know. It's it's a distribution center. We've ramped up so much since that. Today's that on distribution center can send out minimum orders even to the People in Wales Scotland Door. Yeah no it's it's it's still executives aims. It was fraud trade. So that's big relief and of course wholesale prices quite large Paxson Shelf life so in many ways you know we are very very lucky. We haven't got You know t t t is necessary and it lasts and it's light and it's and it's quick and easy to get out that so You know we've got a lot to be a lot to be thankful and just meant that it really was an immediate access tool. But what we what we thought about with Sending it to our trade partners obviously with their hands and heads completely full and frenetic if we just pressed a bit further and sent this opportunity also mentioned the opportunity instead of just saying to upon is oh can you tell everyone about come to being open. That was an incentive that if they put all T- through that website then they would get twenty percent of we do will the that ordering shipping stop. It's just anyone who came through then meant that we would give twenty percent of that order valley straight back to them. And then we saw the most important people Benefit fanatic the the guys at the in the front line of the hospitality sector. You know that million who lost their jobs in the first week so there's this affiliate scheme and we've we've put it all under a banner of of Canton social now which means that if anyone signs up to this scheme and it's incredibly straightforward to do they sign up and they can have download pictures and messages and then they can send it to all their contacts through emails or an scammell. Whatever their social media is and anyone. He uses a unique link to order from Canton. They will get in on the dashboard. They'll see Twenty percent that order will go straight to them as well. So it's you know if they get they have lots of T. loving people in that context than it might just be like getting tips. Actually this isn't just for the businesses and this is just a you know. The team missed off themselves. Get a affiliate link consent to alter their contacts exactly. Yeah so this is why I have faith. We will come out the other side Aid TO COME UP WITH IDEAS. Let that be to kind of to implement them back quickly and to linked with host Hospitality Action. Send it to the frontline workers It's great I will make sure we'll have a child was all make sure that my hundred staff get one of those is a genus of getting your genes. Did that incident. Now have to say and I know you know this was like sweet you. I'm currently drinking one of your triple mid teas that one and the lemon and ginger which it just blows my mind that this is an advert fueled by felt so lucky that I could buy them via the hotels of any time that my manager at the hotel officer if I need to talk about genuine when I saw that you get to the public I was amazing. I'm going to tell my fence because it's such a good product so we will help with that intense. Help a little bit of cash back to people who is a really good idea. There was other things apart from that that you've done as well. I think it was some online trading and stuff like absolutely said that that was an immediate thought was during this downtime. One of our partners Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge. They had that terrible fire and they kept that cell phone and they closed We did a lot of training we will that stall and a great way of keeping them engaged in and busy and oversee upskilled and at this time we just developed in the UK. Take on me. We've developed a pretty hefty online course which is going to be available very soon but not quite launched yet however An edited version of that is going to be. We can send out to all our contacts said that they can then really get into the the fund the Ritchie the interesting. What is T- where it's from and how it's made and all the different categories all the essential stop that surprisingly many people don't know so That would be great if people come back just feeding a little bit more passionate about tea and knowing a little bit more about it wanting to wanting to reading on and they should go if they need some inspiration before they do that go back. Listen to a lost chats Because it on the fact that I keep telling people what you told me common but that was that was but you. You told me about those thousand-year-old Kinda see trees. You can only get to buy food up in the mountains in China. I think it was a specific thing around the little boggle might something that comes nibbles the leaves. Then they're ready to harvest and I tell that story so often. So yeah anybody who needs to go and be inspired and stop drinking the sort of dusty shavings from the floor of the big factories and actually get into retail. Listen to that and then come about your cool. Says that will make them feel a little bit better about the future of humanity. We will all come out with this the other side as well because if those trees thousand years old and still going strong then. I think it's a nice little sign to be optimistic. John so is there anything else that you've that you've done yet. Well the other thing. We're just building up program now last week. All this big thing push this campaign which we just launched Canton social to get the referral out to everybody and that that really is only just anybody who's interested look on our website or instagram. They can find not and Developing this program of events. So it's going to be if anyone wants to join Canton full Costa I when we WANNA do is sort of canton cocktail. Not of tea. Cocktails live. Probably without head of T. L. A. Shaking it up and also in time depending how long this goes on but we will see I want to do Webinars again around learning and developing knowledge around T. so bringing those top T. professionals we know all over the world you can come up with certain that's-that's subjects that they can share and really just developing a a more of a sort of online social community. Which which. I'm sure you know everybody staying moment thinking about. Are you doing that through youtube or through your website or do you know the channel yet? No I don't he's working on. Do people go to find out more? That was definitely they follow us on instagram. That's the best and quickest and most agile way of keeping everybody up to date what we day. Perfect where the government then? It's good to hear that it is finding its way about the supply chain. I suppose. Is there anything else that you failed? They could or should be doing to help you in on some of your colleagues across the sector while of course you know there are some people falling between the cracks who a not on staff and Just making sure that The people who work with us who announced off that the essentially free. Don't just trying to make sure that we need to talk to them as much as we can. Apparently they're working on it. And there's this being announcement in the next couple of days with some sort of getting on a daily basis because things are changing so quickly. But I got a while so this other go into the technicalities a tool but we mentioned furloughed workers just now. Unofficially that seems to be this rule around furloughed workers needing to be sort of laid off nothing out to work if you managed to get your head around any of the complexities around that. Because lots of us are switching to online and some of these initiatives which aren't really catastrophic biking just to keep us taking a little bit so that we can trade out of it. Have you managed to be full about five minutes to get your head around yet while you wait until the detail? Well definitely waiting for the detail but will say I mean a lot of our staff. That really genuinely isn't very much for them to do stuff that we're doing is is almost social now. Once we got the website up. That's all takes care of itself once we you know we don't actually been planning onto distribution. That's a you know it's now the company says. Yeah it sounds. It's ready that they gotta be suspended animation so we want to keep in touch. I mean they've all said they want to carry on just meeting every morning to keep some sort of structure and can get communication between the host of Canton team will be very small and very very close so At the moment. That's as much as we're doing and with the with the with the bank that was the other one This issue seems to be that The government backing eighty percent but the tobacco the other twenty percent. You need to as direct to sign a personal guarantee. You happy to do that or have you do. Think that's GonNa be a little bit of a dealbreaker. Maybe it won't be as useful as it's intended to be a well. I mean if it's a deal breaker if it's if if it's GonNa be done is going to be done if you have the confidence in the commitment in your company you've been with long than this sort of ready no tentative unless you know. I mean there will be no Tennessee for some people if they put everything into that company. It's going to put them in and out of jeopardy but I guess it depends on the level of their look how situation we're already about. Kosovo million in debt to the government with regards to Vat M. P. A. Y. Yeah that's only GonNa grow you know hopefully suspended a little bit now but that's not including this month's pay. Why don't you take a debt from the bank that you need to custom care on CNN? So the trade your way out that they'll be companies where we're relatively small if we will. Radio CULTIVAR million. Yeah it's GonNa be it's GONNA be tricky. I think as to whether how many businesses actually a qualified with banks have been a little bit nervous about hospitality. Take ME IN A. We're GONNA come out with some challenges and we don't know whether will instantaneously be Fully or whether that will be staggered and also this idea that will people signing Aaron sadie enormous. Put the House on the line reading the small print. I think is saying it will exclude your your primary residence. But even two hundred and fifty thousand you do have to literally sign away the company to say that you'll you'll factories in your assets if you Kennel pay Those are on the line. So that that quite stringent terms but I guess again we'll see if not too many people stop. There's no point having three hundred and thirty billion available to lend if people why take it you know? The conditions are arduous. But it's great to hear that they might help you out Jennifer so they you know they might have to. I mean at the moment. Would you know of a single Which is going you know day by day just to see if we only knew how long it was gonna loss would not be something that it's just planning for this complete unknown faction possible result absolutely he and if we knew what the wonderful cost was going to be when we do come out side certainly for us on the on the sea front side. It's a beautiful clear sunny day today. We would be exceptionally busy. And if we reopened in the winter of it'll be a very different scenarios. I guess the key thing is stay. Stay healthy in the first instance where people go so your your instagram. Handle your website to follow this. Jennifer was the best place to get the best night's go is actually if the full the The website is canton. Well it is shop. Got Better get this right now to canton dot com. You will be able to go from there to see the new shop. Just check that you'll I don't worry I will put negate from thank you. I think it's got a it's shop. Dot Kent on T. Dot Com possibly but the canton social DOT CANTON DOT com. Definitely one if people want to go to an affiliated link and to sign up and who knows what might might come through if your friends Ford eight and their friends forwarded then light might really what them to think about something. You'll keep going the end of this. Now you've set up the the sort of direct to consumer retail. Now I don't I. I really think that it wouldn't in many ways. It's I mean no because we all in Taty setup for wholesale it means the moment united. These prices is still wholesale said. There's no way that and all bags you know. It's only fifty of the pyramid bags. But that's quite a quite a lot I mean fifty bags in one by one. I fifty nine feeling better. It's Kilo English breakfast loosely. So we're not gonNA start repackaging and also we want to go back to what we're good at. We want to be off to their hospitality. The Trade Center. And they're the ones he said. All T best we supply it and train them best so but not because even more hats off to you for pivoting so quickly in finding and trying to come up with solution do January. You think the public should make the most of it and buy it why they can But thank you Jennifer. Spare time I just wanted to have a quick chat about how you thank you so much mark replies on. I wish you every love for the future and we'll keep in touch antea to speak soon. Bye Okay thanks for listening. I hope that was useful. I think it was great to hear about Jennifers. I guess optimism. I suppose really in the fact. They've made some changes. They will go back to their traditional business model eventually but also great to hear some of the initiatives they use to try and help people in the hospitality industry with hospitality action and their affiliate scheme. So go to humans of hospitality dot co Dot. Uk. Pop the links to those online. And bring you out another special sort of quick more show very soon as I've said before in touch if you'd like to be on the show or if you have some ideas of people you would like to hear from specifically in the in the hospitality sector and we'll be back to all sort of normal weekly sort of deep dive Info shows some point soon to okay. Thanks so much for listening cheese.