Wholesaler and distributor A.F. Blakemore has reported a 18% increase in sales over the four weeks to 2 January, in what it says was a 'strong' Christmas sales performance.
The group said that the additional capacity at its new distribution centre in Bedford left it 'well-positioned' to meet strong customer demand.
'Challenging Operating Period'
“Much of the sector had forecast a challenging operating period, with predictions of supply chain failures impacting availability and the ongoing COVID pandemic affecting staffing levels," commented Peter Blakemore, A.F. Blakemore group chairman.
"Without doubt, COVID continues to impede colleague availability, however by investing and putting importance on our people capability, it has enabled us to continue to operate as normal despite COVID related absenteeism, which were similar to peak pandemic levels."
According to the company, in order to manage stock effectively over the Christmas period, tactical stock builds, centralisation of supply and backhaul were required.
"With our highest recorded case volume on New Year's Eve and a forecasted 20% increase in sales by the end of the financial year, we need suppliers to invest in mitigating these issues to improve availability," Blakemore added.
The group has also announced a number of management changes, with group managing directors Geoff Hallam and Jerry Marwood set to retire, at the end of financial year 2022 and in May 2023 respectively.
Following Hallam's departure, Marwood is to take over group CEO responsibilities, implementing a succession plan for when he too departs in 2023.
"The coming months will see further senior appointments as we structure our business in line with our long-term strategy," Blakemore added.