We have taken steps to ensure that the risk of coronavirus is closely monitored and carefully managed.

This includes securing availability with our suppliers and identifying alternative sourcing options, in case they are required.

As you would expect, we are working hard to reduce the risk of infection for our colleagues and the people we do business with.

Helping with the fight against coronavirus

As an industrial distribution business, we can support the fight against coronavirus in two key areas.

Firstly, we can support the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) by making donations of high-demand products such as face masks and disposable gloves.

Rubix Benelux has provided thousands of masks to branches in Venlo, Utrecht, Enschede, Sliedrecht in the Netherlands and Waregem in Belgium. Our colleagues in those locations will deliver the masks to the institutions of their choice.

Rubix France has arranged for its branches to donate face masks to local pharmacies, nursing homes and clinics.

Rubix Iberia is donating face masks, gloves, coveralls and safety glasses to the hospitals closest to its PPE warehouses, located in Bilbao and Girona. The fabric workshop in La Rioja has donated textiles to produce gowns for hospitals in the area.

Rubix Italy has donated masks to the Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo and to the Associazione con Andrea (Association with the aim of supporting works of charity, health care and education) in Gavirate.

Rubix UK has created ‘grab bags’ of essential PPE that colleagues can take and give to friends or relatives who work for the national health service.

Secondly, our leading industry sectors, which include food & beverage, pharmaceuticals and utilities are critical to the management of this crisis for governments across Europe.

In many cases, these businesses are depending on us to keep their plants up and running so they can manage their output in response to a rapid increase in demand.

We are also providing products and services to those customers who are switching production to help meet the need for PPE and other medical equipment.

For example, our team at the Royal Mint helped to source components for the c.4000 medical visors that will be produced for the NHS every day.

We worked with precision engineering business, Nasmyth Group, on critical components for medical ventilators. We designed a cutting application and manufactured the bespoke cutting tool inserts within 24 hours.

Our UK team sourced a vital grease for the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium when it looked like a supply shortage was going to cause a production delay. Rubix teams across Europe responded to the internal request for stock within minutes. The full quantity was delivered on time and in full, enabling ventilator production to remain on schedule.

At other UK sites we helped the consortium prepare for manufacturing to begin, supplying products ranging from specialist chairs for the engineers through to PPE and bespoke torque gauges that were air freighted from the USA. The team also established a regular replenishment cycle to ensure the right products are available throughout production.

Our specialist linear team in Plattling, Germany, is providing customised and ready-to-install linear shafts that will be used in eleven state-commissioned machines that will produce over 1.5m face masks per day.

Protecting our colleagues and customers

The health and safety of our employees and the people we do business with is our top priority.

The coronavirus situation is changing daily, and we are asking all colleagues to follow the advice of the relevant national health authority, supported with clear guidelines and instructions from our leadership teams.

As always, we are working closely with our customers to keep their businesses moving.

Where our customers have put additional measures in place, all colleagues working on those customer sites will conform with those requirements.

We are maintaining awareness of hygiene measures within the business and our colleagues are working from home where it’s possible and appropriate.

The Group’s business continuity team is meeting daily to monitor the impact on our people, customers and supply chains.

We are maintaining daily communications with employees, including weekly video messages from the Group CEO alongside regular updates from other members of the executive board.

Protecting the supply of products and services

Rubix is Europe’s largest distributor of industrial products and services. For many of our leading suppliers, we are their largest European customer. This enables us to secure supply in a way that many others cannot.

We are using the collective technical expertise, knowledge and experience of 8,500 colleagues across 22 European countries to identify alternatives if there are supply issues.

We are finding that demand for masks, coveralls, goggles and disposable gloves has reached unprecedented levels.

We are also finding that demand for hand sanitiser has also increased rapidly. Although production is not concentrated in the same way as other hygiene products, lead times have been extended.

We are using our market leading position to help manage the risk of price increases and to try to protect supply by building stock in each country.

Keeping the wheels of industry turning, right across Europe

We remain operational and ready to serve our customers. Many of them are the leading names in critical industries including food & beverage, pharmaceuticals and utilities. They are relying on us to keep their plants up and running.

All of our major distribution centres across Europe are open and continue to fulfil orders on time and in full. We are completing contactless replenishment of industrial vending machines and ensuring continuity of service for our InSite customers – where a Rubix team works at the customer site.

Our network of engineering centres is providing repair, maintenance, condition monitoring and product customisation services. This is helping to keep production lines running efficiently and supporting our customers as they prepare for the re-start.

Where we can’t be with customers in person, we are committing additional resource to our digital channels to ensure continuous access to our specialist knowledge and technical expertise.

This includes re-assigning colleagues to web chat, enabling sales rep log-in so we can guide customers through their online transactions and the mass-creation of web shop accounts for all relevant customers who don’t already have one.

We are increasingly using internal social networking to connect our network of makers and doers so that they can continue to solve customer problems, supporting them as they navigate the crisis.