LONG-established JB Christie Bakery, which operates in Airdrie and Coatbridge, has two shops as well as a bakery employing about 50 staff in the area.
As fears over the COVID-19 virus spread, Andrew Chisholm, the owner of JB Christie, decided this would be an appropriate time to set up an online ordering system so the much-loved local business could continue to serve its local customers, many of whom would have to isolate in order to stay safe.
On 20th March, just before the lockdown was announced, the bakery owner had no idea if anyone would use the service, so Christie’s set up a very low-cost option with just the basics, creating a shopping page with six products and a checkout.
Using social media to promote that the online shop was available for pick-ups and local, next day delivery, within minutes the first order had pinged through.
But, immediately after the Government announced the lockdown, and with only nine orders and high street shop sales plummeting, Andrew decided to close the bakery – both the high street shops and the online store – and take stock. This break lasted seven days.
Begins Andrew: “Never ones to give up, we saw how the lockdown was affecting our community and how difficult those who were isolated were finding things, so we decided to re-open JB Christie’s online and to try and make a go of it despite the challenges.
“We re-opened the online store in the evening of the 30th, and again announced the re-opening of the online store offering delivery-only. This was the start of an avalanche of orders. On day one of the re-opening, we took 73 orders. In the first day-and-a-half, we took 310 orders. Seventy-three on Monday and 236 on Tuesday.”
At the end of a full week’s trading, the online shop’s takings almost matched the takings of JB Christie’s two shops, pre-COVID 19, and takings on one day at least exceeded normal high street shop levels by approximately 20 per cent.
Adds Andrew: “This run of orders has not slowed down and it has created its own pressures in terms of baking in a safe way and ensuring deliveries were made on time and safely socially distanced. It’s been a huge learning curve but we are delighted to have been able to pull it off for the good of our isolated and vulnerable customers.
“But it’s important to recognise the hard work and dedication of the team at JB Christie. They have worked extremely hard and adapted to a continually changing landscape without complaint. Without them and their desire and willingness to work during these unsettled times, we would not have been able to achieve what we have.”
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