Ivan Chyvkin, Operations and Development Director at Antoshka, tells about the changes that have occurred in the chain of stores during two months of the war, changes in demand for various products, solving logistics issues and stopping orders from the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.
- How did your business changed during two months of the war? What had to be radically changed or built from scratch?
- The main changes at this stage affected three directions: sales were almost halved; product range was optimized to the existing market realities; many of employees had to leave their home cities. There were no radical changes during these two months. The experience of our team helped pass this stage without any significant disruptions.
- How many stores are open? Was it possible to keep all the stores undamaged?
- As of 25 April, more than 80% of our stores operate throughout Ukraine. 36 of 43 stores are open; 7 stores are closed (3 in Kharkiv and 4 in Kyiv region). One of our stores located in Bucha was damaged, i.e. robbed during the temporary occupation.
- How has the demand for online products changed?
- Our main customers are mothers with children. We all know that more than 5 million people have left the territory of Ukraine: 50% of them are children and 44% are women. Accordingly, many of our customers have left, which negatively affects the traffic of our stores (about 50% drop). At the beginning of March, we observed a change in demand for the products of Food and Hygiene categories. In April, we see a stable demand for all product groups, and percentage of sales of all product categories is gradually reaching the pre-war level.
- How do you cooperate with suppliers now? What share of the assortment has had to be reduced or changed?
- We have been able to agree on special wartime conditions with many suppliers. At the same time, we have completely stopped to order products from the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus. Food and Hygiene categories decreased and changed by about 10-20%.
- How do you solve logistics issues?
- Our main warehouse is located in Odesa, so we can carry out logistics operations with less barriers during active military operations in Kyiv region. Due to the presence of a branch warehouse in Lviv, we can work with own and imported products. The situation is now almost stable. We have changed the delivery schedule based on the needs of stores and taking into account the wartime peculiarities.
- Was it possible to keep the whole team or some employees had to leave temporarily?
- We did not reduce the staff of stores and offices. About 10-15% of employees temporarily left Ukraine. The same percentage of employees had to leave their home cities. We try to support all of them in these difficult times.
- How do you provide safety of employees?
- We try to make maximum use of recommendations for action during air raid and taking into account curfew restrictions. We do not work in cities with high intensity of combat operations, such as Kharkiv. In other cities, we allow local directors to make their own decisions to close stores in the event of a sudden escalation.
- Does your online store work?
- Our online store did not stop working for a day and now works in standard mode. All functions of orders are available, as before the war.
- Do you have any problems with landlords?
- There have been almost no problems with our landlords during these two months. We have been able to agree on the acceptable rental conditions and continue to work effectively with many of them. We were unable to agree on the rental conditions for the period of hostilities only in one case, and now we are preparing the store for closure.
- What difficulties are you facing now and are the ways to overcome them?
- The main difficulties today are decrease in customer traffic and sharp decline in sales of stores in all regions (except the western part of Ukraine). We believe in the early victory of Ukraine and look forward to the return of all our customers. We also prepare a plan of action, allowing us to continue doing business at an acceptable level in the event of continuation of the war.
- Please share your chain’s volunteer experience.
- Since the first days of the war, we have been actively supporting municipal authorities and volunteer organizations in all cities of our presence. Partners are also actively helping us. Since February 24, many our employees have volunteered in their cities and provided maximum local support to resettlers and our defenders. Our pediatricians provide free advice to parents from Ukraine and other European countries, where they had to go. We also resumed free courses of our School of Future Mothers. We organized free haircuts for resettled children in Odessa, Lviv and Poltava. We organized the Shelves of Good Deeds in Lviv stores, where anyone can donate or take children’s creative materials and books.
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