Brakes digitally transforms on its mission to feed the nation in lockdown

Brakes, the UK’s leading foodservice wholesaler, has digitally transformed its operations during the covid-19 lockdown, openning up its B2B food delivery site to the public with the launch of a new Direct To Consumer (D2C) ecommerce offer, giving UK households an alternative to visiting the supermarket or relying on online grocery delivery slots.

With the sudden closure of pubs and restaurants during lockdown, foodservice wholesaler Brakes was able to step in alongside fellow wholesaler, Bidfood, to support the Government in providing food and other essentials to the clinically vulnerable, who were required to shield for 12 weeks.  From planning to execution in less than nine days, Brakes now delivers more than 200,000 care packages each week across Great Britain.

Brakes also stepped in to support supermarket’s efforts to feed the nation and get food into stores, working with several retailers, including Sainsbury’s and Iceland, to help them meet the surge in demand as panic buying took hold in March.  Brakes was able to supply a number of different products, from catering-sized tins of tomatoes to milk, that would usually have been supplied to hospitality and out-of-home food businesses directly to supermarkets to keep the shelves stocked.

In its mission to continue to feed the nation, Brakes recognised the need to begin to supply its restaurant-quality products directly to the public via a new D2C site, for shoppers who either couldn’t secure an online food delivery or didn’t want to visit the supermarket. 

Within two days, partnering with ecommerce agency KPS, Brakes opened its B2B site to the public, accepting phone orders for collection from a select few distribution centres (DCs).  It then introduced a complementary Direct to Consumer (D2C) e-commerce site, which would support click and collect.

With new registration, location, payments and customer service processes needing to be designed, tested and implemented at pace, the KPS and Brakes teams worked collaboratively to deliver the implementation of Brakes’ D2C channel.  This was launched on the SAP Commerce Cloud platform in nine days, with no impact on Brakes’ vital food delivery that supports those shielding with food packages and its supply chain work.

Now, Brakes can provide groceries to a radius that includes 6.8 million households in the UK, while consumers have access to more than 6,000 Brakes products.

“As a business, we knew we had to respond quickly – which we knew would be challenging, but we have innovative and resilient colleagues at Brakes, so we were able to launch a really great service, in record time.”

Alex Protasiuk, Lead Digital Relationship Manager at Brakes

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