Since the tightening of containment measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, food stores are stormed. Images of empty shelves, hanging for toilet paper or pasta, and long lines in front of stores have hit social media and media.
However, the giant retailers reassure. “We will hold on, there is no problem,” said this morning on Europe 1 Michel Biero, executive director of purchasing and marketing for Lidl. “We are now more of a public service than a food store,” he said.
“There is no shortage”
“There is no shortage. There have obviously been stockouts in recent days but it is the unprecedented peak of activity that we have known that is behind this,” says the executive director. “People rushed (in the shops). Tuesday morning we had lines of 400, 500, 600 people. Regulation was even impossible. So yes there were empty shelves, but there were shortages It will not be possible. It is impossible: production continues to rotate, industry continues to rotate. “
For Michel Biero, there will be no rationing in the future. The biggest problem for him remains employee absenteeism. “We talk a lot about the health personnel, who are essential for the country, but I think that the large distribution, the food chain, has become today a public service. With us there are approximately between 30 and 40 % of absenteeism. Which arms will help me put the goods in the trucks of the logistics platform? Who will sell it? “
“We are fighting to find masks”
Employees are afraid to go to their workplaces. Indeed, they are particularly exposed and can only rarely set up a social distancing. Michel Biero asks the government “a minimum of recognition” for its employees. “We are fighting to find masks but they are requisitioned by the state. We need to secure our employees so that they come every morning to work, to explain to them that we have almost become a public service and that You have to feed the population. This is essential, “he said.
Plexiglas plates soon to be installed to protect employees
To protect employees, the Lidl brand will install Plexiglas plates on all of its cases by the end of the day. “We are looking for gloves,” adds Michel Biero. “In a war you have to treat yourself, and feed yourself above all.” According to him, the employees feel invested with a mission and are proud to “feel that France needs them”. “We are really the civic sense. Today we are more of a public service than a food store. There are bonuses for strong activities that already existed and that we put back in place for this kind of peak of activity “, he adds.
After the chaos scenes on Tuesday, frequentation of food stores subsided in the afternoon. A more regular flow that will allow employees to restock the shelves. “We are already making staggered openings to supply. We have 25 regional offices, we let each drive in their region”, specifies Michel Biero.