Residents shop in a Wumart store for vegetables and other daily necessities. (Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn)
Retailers and catering industry in the country have joined hands to share personnel to better cope with mounting challenges brought by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Wumart and Walmart, two leading retail giants, have each issued notices, inviting employees from the halted catering industry or other sectors affected by the coronavirus to join their operations in stores, or in the delivery process. The goodwill move hopes to reduce the cost of restaurants owners in terms of idled labor.
Wumart said they have now reached about 60 businesses to talk about the collaborations in personnel.
Hema Fresh, a fresh food chain backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, said they have started to work with Yunhaiyao, the nation leading South-Yunnan ethnic cuisine chain restaurants on Monday.
More than 400 employees from Yunhaiyao joined Hema Fresh stores and delivery services in cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou.
Hu Qiugen, general manager of operation of Hema Fresh, told The Paper, that their online orders have grown so quickly than their orders on average and their capacity is reaching the limit, with shortage of labor in stores, sorting and packaging at every single store.
With more than 200 stores in the country, each store has staffed about 100 employees. But the orders have increased to 50 percent in recent days, Hu was quoted by the Paper. In the following days, about 500 employees from South Memory — a leading Sichuan cuisine restaurants chain and Shudaxia, a hotpot chain — will be in positions at Hema Fresh. More than 30 restaurants have been in talks with Hema.
The hit from the virus outbreak on the catering industry is severe and lasting, halting restaurants businesses nationwide. Jia Guolong, head of the Xibei Ltd, a top restaurant chain, said thanks to the outbreak of the virus, which has limited visitors to frequent restaurants, their current cash flow is only sufficient for three months of operations.
Meanwhile, limited outdoor activities have pushed up the online orders of retailers of daily necessities, resulting in the shortage of labor.
"The ongoing epidemic has postponed the return of employees to go back to their workplace at retail stores, creating shortages in labor for both online and offline retailers," said Jason Yu, general manager of Kantar Worldpanel China.
"Skillful employees from the catering industry to join retailers such as Hema and Wumart will greatly ease their delivery pressure. It also reduces catering industry's cost."