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Loek Smets (P. Smets): "A safe work space for our staff is more important than a little revenue"

"Our sales warehouse has been closed to visitors for more than a week now"

Warehouse sales remain an essential part of P. Smets' business. This wholesaler is based in Geleen, the Netherlands. Nevertheless, more than a week ago, the company decided not to allow any clients into its warehouse at all anymore. "We declared an internal lockdown on Wednesday evening, 18 March. Only employees are allowed in. Clients can place orders by e-mail or telephone and on the webshop. They can then come and collect their goods. It has actually been working very well," says Loek Smets.

"Telephonic orders can be placed until 19:00, and webshop orders until 22:00. These are for next-day collections. Clients can indicate their preferred collection time when placing an order. Clients - who usually have a van or truck - have to report to reception via telephone. They can then proceed to the loading destination."

Richard, Pierre, and Loek Smets. Pierre has since gone into quarantine.

He is surprised he has not heard of more of his fellow wholesalers taking the same steps. "Why wait for the new measures from the government? I think we must take responsibility ourselves for creating a safe working environment for our employees. We feel that the loss of revenue does not outweigh your social obligation to protect your staff and clients. Our clients have a great deal of understanding for this. Our Dad is also in quarantine. He lives next door to the business, but may not come to the office anymore."

P. Smets' client base consists of not only greengrocers and hospitality industry suppliers. They also deal with itinerant traders and, increasingly, with Turkish clients and farm stalls. Their clients lie within a 100km radius of Geleen. They are made up of 60% Dutchmen and 30% Belgians. The remaining ten percent comes from Germany.

"The hospitality industry and its suppliers are doing no more business, so, we are currently not selling anything to that sector. However, we see that greengrocers are selling more these days. They are doing really well. It is mainly cooking vegetables that are top sellers. Citrus and ginger are also selling well. But there has been a clear dip in the sales of typical hospitality products. Included here are shoots, cresses, and herbs," concludes Loek.

For more information:
Loek Smets
P. Smets & Zn
11 Hofdwarsweg
6161 DE, Geleen, NL
Tel: +31 (0) 464 742 381
[email protected]

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