All over Europe, restaurants have closed their doors to customers. Instead, people eat at home in their sheltered living rooms and keeping the raging corona virus world outside. Sales therefore go exclusively for Danish fish producer Brdr. Schile Fish to retail to European supermarkets.
“Retail sales have grown by 100 per cent the last week. But it is probably an utopia that we will not be affected at some point,” says Kaj Schlie, CEO of Brdr. Schile Fiskeeksport, located in northern Denmark, Hirtshals.
As for now, retail sales have escalated covering the non-existing wholesale business. Usually, 30% of the company’s export goes to wholesale and 70% to retail.
Brdr. Schile Fiskeeksport produces approx. 7-800 tons of fish per week. 50 % of this is salmon. This week sales have lowered 20%.
As long as the borders are open
Until now, transportation of food through Denmark has not been effected, and authorities have advised people not to travel to parts of Germany and France, this does not apply to the food industry.
“As I understood the Prime Minister, the borders are open to the food industry so people can get food. Right now no more food is being produced than can be eaten. As long as the borders are open, things will hopefully be alright,” says Kaj Schile.
“At the moment we can handle the situation, the question is more what will come in the long run,” he says.
Kaj Schile is worried the situation will continue into Easter as February and March are low season and therefore not as influential. But in Easter there is a great demand on salmon.
“It’s not a desirable situation. We are definitely losing money. But it’s too early to say how much it’s going to cost us.”
Shifts to keep the wheels rolling
Ten days ago, the company began introducing various measures to reduce contamination at work. The company has set up three work shifts, different from the usual two shifts and set a limit of maximum 20 employees at work in the same department in the production.
“We are doing what we can, but we’re not sure it is going to be enough,” says Kaj Schile, explaining that all employees who can work from home do so, and that all procedures are implemented at all six factories in Denmark.
“There is no one at work who doesn’t have to be,” he emphasises.
All employees in production are prohibited from entering the administration and vice versa. In addition strict rules on hygiene and more cleaning have been introduced in the company. There is a total of 450 employees at Brdr. Schile Fiskeeksport factories.
“So far we are not in crisis. But we will be hit hard if some employees have to be in quarantine.”