Over the last year, companies have been battling the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis that has jeopardised the health of their business, employees and partners. However, some organisations have managed to implement initiatives to counter the effects, protecting both their own business and that of their stakeholders. Here are three particularly inspiring, positive stories that stand out from this chaotic year dominated by COVID-19.
Intermarché supports its SMB partners
Intermarché, a large French retailer, sought to provide long-term support for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs) to help them weather the crisis. To this end, Intermarché decided to finalise its annual campaign of business negotiations with such suppliers by the end of 2020. Items on the agenda included: no call for price reductions and even an agreement on "reasonable" increases (excluding certain raw materials); the expansion of its range with new SMBs; logistical flexibility in terms of deliveries.
For a long time, the retailer has been working to support French farmers, for example with its recent introduction of the "Franco-Score", a label showing the geographical origin of its products. A leading player in the French economy and a major contributor to the turnover of SMB brands, Intermarché is once again demonstrating a strong commitment to its supplier network.
ENEL: Innovation to support resilience
ENEL, Italy's leading electrical energy producer, has been investing in innovation for several years, which has helped the company bounce back quickly from the health crisis and ensure business continuity.
To work around border closures and ensure that its suppliers could continue to carry out essential inspections and checks on equipment, the company turned to new technologies. Thanks to smart glasses, these visits could be carried out remotely, therefore complying with the travel restrictions and social distancing measures imposed due to COVID-19.
Also in 2020, ENEL held a call for projects entitled "Reshape: Innovability®", a portmanteau combining the concepts of open innovation and sustainability. Its objective was to prepare for the future by promoting the energy transition. Several topics were to be discussed as a matter of priority, including employee safety, remote customer support, the customer's digital experience and automation of power plant construction.
Jouve pays providers in advance
Jouve, a French digital services and printing company, is an active player, as both a signatory of the Charter for responsible supplier relations (Charte Relations fournisseurs responsables) and a member of Défi Entreprises Solidaires, a French initiative championing companies that implement mutually supportive measures to aid business recovery in response to COVID-19.
Anticipating that its most at-risk partners (very small and mid-market businesses) might experience cash flow problems as a result of the crisis, the company offered them significant financial support by paying invoices in advance. In total, a sum of €100,000 was distributed among almost 80 providers, advancing payments for some by a month. This underscores the company's commitment to building lasting relationships with its stakeholders. Jouve also received the Gold Prize for the Economic Solidarity Award, as part of the Décision Achats Awards.
Although challenging and unprecedented, this year has ultimately given some companies the opportunity to further build on their strengths, whether in terms of supplier relationships or technological innovation.