Colleague safety and wellbeing has always been a priority, and from the start, we put the safety of people (colleagues and customers) first. We had already decided to close our stores on 23 March before the government mandated closure, and we decided to close all of our operations (including warehouses, vehicles, and manufacturing center) on that date until we were able to ensure that they were safe to re-open (our offices had already been closed).
Throughout the crisis we have listened to our colleagues and taken particular care to protect the most vulnerable and lower-paid workers. At all stages, we set government safety guidelines as our minimum standard. We made arrangements for as many colleagues as possible to work from home, including those in our Customer Care Centre. We closed our warehouses, manufacturing center, and home delivery operations until we had put in place physical and procedural social distancing measures, with the advice of an NHS safety consultant. Similarly, we redesigned our stores and installed protective measures for our colleagues (and customers) before we were happy to re-open them. Prior to re-opening any facility, we carefully considered the following: is this legally permitted; have all safety guidelines been met or exceeded; can we successfully operate within these constraints; will this course of action be acceptable to our colleagues, customers and the wider community? All of our colleagues were fully trained in new safety procedures before coming back to work, and we held regular listening groups so that any concerns could be addressed. We also re-opened our facilities in stages, ensuring that we addressed any colleague or customer concerns and applied learnings before rolling out further.