An important message concerning the current situation.

15th April 2020

In the last few weeks we have experienced a situation that none of us has faced before, and I hope that despite the challenges we face you are keeping well and enduring the difficulties of isolation with as much fortitude as possible.

Since the Covid-19 situation escalated in mid-March, followed soon thereafter by an almost total lockdown when the major retailers were overwhelmed by panic-buying, there has been an unprecedented demand for online food. 

At Dukeshill we have seen a huge surge in orders, and whilst we are pleased to be busy and eager to help those who are unable to get to the shops, it hasn’t been without its challenges. However, we have taken the necessary measures to ensure that we remain open for business, although in common with almost all online retailers some lines have temporarily sold out and the lead times for delivery have increased.

I would like to explain some of the measures we have taken to mitigate the effects of the extraordinary challenges that we have faced:

Staff safety:

The welfare of our team at Dukeshill is paramount. The essential nature of food production and warehousing requires attendance at work, however since the start of the crisis those staff who are able to carry out their work from home have been instructed to do so. 

We recognise that our stringent hygiene rules are important, not just for the safety of the food that we sell, but also for the health of our staff; we are ensuring that our standards of cleaning, hand washing, and protective equipment are fully enforced - and even enhanced.

Although we have had to take on a considerable number of extra staff to cope with the increased activity, we have been enforcing as far as is possible the two-metre separation rules for all workers. To achieve this, we have adopted new working practices to keep workers further apart; we have also moved production to split shifts, thus halving the number of staff on site at any one time. To reduce further the risk of infection, all production staff are instructed to wear face masks while working.

Number of lines:

Our own production facilities, and those of our suppliers, were for a while stretched beyond their normal limits; we have to recognise that when demand stays at a level that we are not designed to handle for more than a few days, something had to give. As a result, we have had to limit temporarily the availability of certain lines to reflect our own production capacity and that of our network of small suppliers. We are anxious to offer the levels of choice and service that you expect from Dukeshill and are working hard to reintroduce lines and reduce lead times as quickly as capacity allows.

Many of our cured meats take some time to produce, and we will never compromise on our quality standards. The initial surge in demand led to an inevitable shortage of some items and whilst we have been running at full capacity to replace stock there is an inevitable delay as products take time to cure and mature. 

In the meantime, if you find that a specific item is out of stock, please bear with us – there will normally be something similar to substitute.

Deliveries:

It must be remembered that our carriers are no more immune to the effects of coronavirus than any other business, and some areas of the country have seen service levels dip as depot staff and drivers have been off sick or forced to self-isolate. Our carriers normally give a two-hour delivery slot for when they will deliver your order; in most cases this is still the case but there will inevitably be instances when this service will not be available. Please remember, we are able to deliver to a safe place without a signature.

I want to thank all our staff who have worked so hard over the last few weeks to adapt to almost impossible circumstances; our suppliers who have risen to the challenge of keeping our supply lines open; and you, our customers, for continuing to rely on Dukeshill for day-to-day essentials or simply treats to make the lockdown more bearable. The last few weeks have been a challenge and we are grateful to you for bearing with us during such a difficult time. 

We are open for business and here to help!