Barker and Stonehouse is preparing to re-open all its stores at the beginning of June, bolstered by increasing demand from customers and strong online sales during lockdown.
Following the Government’s further easing of lockdown restrictions, Barker and Stonehouse has been busy preparing its 11 stores for the welcome return of customers, with innovative safety measures installed to protect customers and staff.
MD James Barker comments: “The gradual easing of lockdown measures is a relief for everyone in the retail industry and we’ve been delighted to be getting many customer enquiries asking us when we will re-open our stores.
“That’s why our team has been working around the clock over the last few weeks to build innovative new systems, such as a new online booking system for those who want one-to-one advice in a safe environment, and to ensure a comprehensive array of protective measures are in each of our stores. We now have sector-leading safety measures in place and look forward to safely opening our doors to customers again on 1st June."
After weeks of lockdown, the retailer has also devised a campaign, entitled Let’s Get Going Britain, to help get British furniture manufacturing back into production.
“We have actively set out our stall to support our British manufacturers and help them get their teams off furlough," James continues. "I am championing them because they are a great resource for our country and the quality of what they make is world-leading.
“We’ve done this by honouring previous orders and paying all our suppliers on time and making sure they are front and centre of our re-opening sales push. What this has resulted in however, is a mountain of stock in our warehouses, which are literally full to the brim. This stockpile will have to be sold at clear-out prices to make way for other orders that are still coming in.
“In return, now that we’re re-opening, these same manufacturers are giving us some absolutely amazing offers and delivery terms to help us quickly meet our customers’ needs and to get their order books full again.
“By looking out for each other everybody wins. When we re-open it will benefit everyone: we will be able to deliver very quickly; customers will get uniquely low prices for very high-quality products; and our many talented furnituremaking suppliers can get back to work.”
New safety measures include an online booking system for customers who would prefer to have a one-to-one meeting with an advisor, to be rolled-out initially in the Teesside Park, Guildford and Knaresborough stores.
A staff member will meet customers at the door to update them on the in-store safety measures, and, once inside, visitors will follow a one-way system, and new signage about social distancing will be positioned at regular intervals along the route.
Hand sanitiser stations will be placed throughout the store, and additional cleaners have been drafted in to ensure that all surfaces are regularly disinfected.
All store staff will wear PPE. Perspex screens have been installed at each pay point for added protection.
Customer toilets and coffee stations will remain closed for the time being, and there will be limits on the number of customers allowed in-store. Due to the size of the stores, the need for outside queuing is not anticipated.
The retailer's two-man delivery teams will also be wearing PPE. The delivery fleet is being fitted with Perspex separators between driver and passenger. For those vans that have not been modified, the team will travel in separate vehicles. Where furniture needs to be unpacked and assembled by a professional team, drivers will wear PPE to enter the property, and request that customers remain in a separate room whilst the installation takes place.
Existing customer orders will be prioritised to ensure that delays due to earlier restrictions on deliveries are kept to a minimum.