How this wholesale distributor came back from a 75% sales drop
About the company
Hector Larivée is a wholesale distributor of fresh produce. The company is one of the largest suppliers to Quebec’s food service industry, servicing restaurants, institutional clients, school cafeterias and hotels.
Location: Montreal, Quebec Industry: Food and beverage
Less than 24 hours after the Quebec government ordered all non-essential businesses to shut down, Hector Larivée’s sales plummeted by 90%.
With little time to act, company leadership put together a crisis management team to brainstorm ideas to salvage the business. The drop in sales had left the company with a massive amount of excess perishable inventory. The first order of business for the crisis team was to donate all the excess inventory to local food banks, which helped book the company on Montreal’s top morning radio show and give them a visibility boost.
Next, they tackled their fleet and driver network. Due to the drop in demand, many of their delivery trucks and drivers were sitting idle. Other businesses were struggling to keep up with delivering an excess of demand, so the company transformed itself into a third-party logistics supplier, loaning out its fleet and drivers to other companies.
But the transformation didn’t stop there.
With their institutional business all but dried up, they decided to go the B2C route. Within a week, the company launched an e-commerce platform where the general public could order produce online and arrange for contactless pickup at their warehouse. They soon added delivery in response to a surge in customer demand, saving even more drivers’ jobs.