Morrisons, the U.K.’s fourth-largest supermarket chain, is planning to pay its small suppliers immediately to help keep them solvent during the coronavirus crisis, Retail Gazette reported Friday (March 13).
"We are Britain's biggest single foodmaker, and we want to be there for the smaller foodmakers, farmers and businesses that supply Morrisons," David Potts, CEO of Morrisons, said.
The company said it would even pay small businesses early to help them deal with the financial impact. Morrisons is also planning to temporarily reclassify small suppliers to those with 1 million pounds ($1.2 million) of business.
The move aims to help suppliers get through any difficulties caused by the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, a Morrisons spokesman told the BBC.
"We're aiming to help them through the next weeks and months," he said. "We want to help local producers, farmers, and fishermen during an uncertain time."
He added that the grocery chain depends on small suppliers for thousands of items it sells every day, and swift payments will help these smaller businesses better handle disruptions.
Morrisons is the only big U.K. grocer to change its payment terms to help smaller suppliers.
Mike Cherry, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the move by Morrisons is "heartening and very welcome," according to the BBC. He added that firms "trying to cope in the face of the coronavirus outbreak need all the help they can get."
"These measures will support our farmers and food producers in their vital work of feeding the nation,” said Environment Secretary George Eustice.
He added that the U.K.’s food supply is "highly-resilient,” and he will collaborate with supermarkets and other merchants on “their response to coronavirus."
“The government has pledged £30 billion [$37.2 million] in this year’s budget for those affected, and we’ve been clear that we will do whatever it takes to support people and businesses,” he said, according to Retail Gazette.
The coronavirus has had a huge impact on supply chains and the retailers that depend on them.