Retail stores running out of essentials, manpower; disrupt supply chain

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Published: March 31, 2020 3:05:52 AM

Industry sources told FE that D-Mart, which runs more than 200 stores pan-India, has only about five to seven days of stock in store while its staff attendance is down by 80%.

Manufacturing units of most consumer goods companies are operating at partial capacity amid the lockdown.Manufacturing units of most consumer goods companies are operating at partial capacity amid the lockdown.

Left with barely 10 days of supplies, most retail stores are running out of essentials as staff crunch and scattered instances of mismanagement on ground continue to disrupt the supply chain. Industry sources told FE that D-Mart, which runs more than 200 stores pan-India, has only about five to seven days of stock in store while its staff attendance is down by 80%. “FMCG brands need to start supplying,” one of the sources said.

Manufacturing units of most consumer goods companies are operating at partial capacity amid the lockdown. Last week, ITC said the company’s factories producing essentials are running with limited manpower. Dabur said it has got approvals and will restart production of hygiene products — sanitisers and hand wash — soon.

Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general at the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said while wholesalers have stocked up enough supplies to last for about 15-20 days, a truncated workforce is hindering their supplies to retail stores. “Retailers have stock that will last only for three to four days. There is an urgent need to refill their stock,” Khandelwal told FE. CAIT has a network of 1 crore kirana shops selling essential commodities across the country. Another issue is lack of coordination between the police and the district administration on the ground, which is restricting movement of goods. “To transport goods, wholesalers need passes. In some states, they are facing challenges to get passes,” Khandelwal added.

Arvind Mediratta, MD and CEO at Metro Cash & Carry India, said although the central government’s intervention helped in movement of goods across borders, new issues have cropped up — in some cities, local authorities have their own set of guidelines to be followed like restrictive time of opening stores, no permission to business customers to visit the company’s stores for their stock fulfilment. “This is hindering their stock replenishment more than ours and ultimately creating panic among citizens,” Mediratta told FE. The firm caters to nearly 8 lakh kirana stores.

A spokesperson at Spencer’s Retail said the company has increased restocking high-velocity products in food, grocery, personal care and home hygiene segments. “We have planned our inbound in depots and stores in a way that we do not expect any kind of supply issues during the lockdown period,” the person told FE.

Prashant Tandon, co-founder and CEO at online firm 1mg Technologies, said interstate movement is not gathering pace as intra-city did, “stifling middle-mile and last-mile reach beyond big metros. With distributors facing manpower constraints, availability of medicines might get difficult in the next seven-10 days. Additionally, there were still certain instances of delivery personnel being stopped in Haryana and New Delhi, Tandon said.

Online meat delivery company Zappfresh has been able to resume operations in four (within Delhi-NCR) of the eight cities it delivers as some states are taking stringent measures to streamline delivery services of essential goods. In the operational cities, there is hesitation on part of delivery boys to get to work, the firm said.

Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO at Retailers Association of India (RAI) said the association is undertaking steps to ease the supply situation along with its partners and the government — RAI has implemented Project ‘Food Soldier’, a three-pronged approach to mitigate bottlenecks in the supply chain, solve the manpower shortage at the store -level and ensure that consumers get their essentials supply at their doorsteps. Steps are being taken to deploy the workforce employed with non-food retailers in stores selling essentials. RAI is also in discussions with online food delivery firms like Swiggy to do last-mile delivery of products. “With the steps being taken, the situation should improve in the next three to four days,” Rajagopalan said.

A Mother Dairy spokesperson said the firm’s booths are fully operational and geared up to meet any surge in demand.

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