A Newport-based merchandising company is working around the clock to help retailers restock their shelves with essential items, following a wave of panic buying due to fears around coronavirus.

Last weekend, the UK’s largest retailers issued a joint letter entitled ‘Working to Feed the Nation’, which urged consumers to be considerate in the way that they shop and to consider those who are elderly, vulnerable or who choose to remain at home, by not stockpiling goods.

The supermarkets stated that they are working closely with the government and suppliers to keep food moving quickly through the system and that they had increased deliveries to their stores to ensure that shelves remain stocked.

The letter also provided an assurance that there is no shortage of goods within the supply chain and stated that “there is enough for everyone, if we all work together”. It also thanked colleagues in stores and supply chains who are working day and night to keep the nation fed.

One of the companies involved in the effort to keep shelves constantly restocked is Langstone-based Retail Merchandising Services which provides merchandising support to the UK’s largest grocery retailers.

With many businesses experiencing a downturn in demand and sales due to coronavirus, RMS has been inundated with requests from its retail clients including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose to provide additional merchandising staff, in order to ensure that stock can be transferred quickly from delivery lorries and onto shelves.

Established in 2005, RMS is the UK’s largest provider of retail merchandisers and operates across the UK and Ireland.

Over the last two weeks, the company has experienced an unprecedented level of demand for its services as a result of coronavirus, which has resulted in consumers stockpiling everyday essential items such as toilet rolls, soap and pasta.

This has been sparked by fears that the UK government is likely to follow the example of other European countries by implementing a policy of enforced lockdown, whereby people will be instructed to stay in their homes for a prolonged period.

The government has this week advised those households experiencing symptoms should self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days.

Daniel O’Toole, chief executive officer at RMS, said: “The concern around coronavirus and the prospect of self-isolation has led to unprecedented levels of consumer purchasing at this time of year. We would only normally experience this type of buying behaviour during the peak Christmas period when we deploy thousands of merchandisers into stores all around the country in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

“The panic buying has meant that we have had to react quickly to ensure that we can help our retail partners to cope. As the retailers have stated, there is no shortage of products in the supply chain, but they do face a challenge getting the products onto the shelves quickly enough.

“Fortunately, over the last few years, we’ve invested heavily in developing our technology, called flex, which allows us to quickly schedule, optimise and deploy teams of flexible, skilled merchandisers to various locations and to communicate remotely with both our staff and our retail partners.

"This is particularly important given the constantly changing circumstances and the need for us to provide guidance to our teams on the measures that they should take to avoid contracting and spreading the Covid-19 virus.

“We are also recruiting new staff, and we are able to quickly check their qualifications, eligibility to work and provide them with training through our myflex app in order to get out to work safely, and help in these challenging times.”