Thursday 7 May 2020 12:18 pm

Ex-Asda boss Andy Clarke praises UK supermarkets' 'incredible' response to coronavirus crisis

Former Asda chief executive Andy Clarke said the UK supermarket sector had responded “incredibly well” to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Clarke, who led Asda for six years before leaving in 2016, said UK grocers had managed to “get Britain back on track” after a surge in stockpiling caused product restrictions in the lead up to the lockdown. 

It is “heartening to see how the retail sector has pulled together”, he told City A.M’s The City View podcast. 

He said: “The retailers responded incredibly well and now some weeks into lockdown with the right management in stores, availability of product seems to be pretty much back where it was.” 

Read more: Shoppers spend extra £524m at UK supermarkets in April

The former supermarket boss said keeping shelves stocked during the crisis had demonstrated a “dramatic piece of management”. 

Grocers were forced to implement product restrictions after the coronavirus pandemic in the UK caused a spike in panic buying.

The industry has also been grappling with a huge jump in demand for online delivery slots and implementing in-store social distancing measures. 

“Those early media shots of empty shelves whether it was about toilet rolls or disinfectant or basic food commodities was quite an eye opener to everybody whether you’re in the industry or not,” Clarke added.

Read more: Supermarket delivery slots: Which grocers offer home delivery amid UK coronavirus outbreak?

“Sometimes we forget that the the UK is world class when it comes to food logistics…there were some early concerns that it would be difficult to get product into the country but that doesn’t seem to have been the case, product has flowed. 

“The supermarkets through the expertise that they have….have managed to keep product flowing around the country from Scotland to the south coast of England and east to west.”