Insight 26 April 2020

COVID-19: Helping to feed the nation

The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed almost every part of day-to-day life. Activities that we have taken for granted, like going to a restaurant or shopping for food, are now restricted.

Businesses have had to adapt rapidly to meet this radical change. Supermarkets in particular have faced enormous challenges, including unprecedented demand peaks.

Initially, panic buying meant a massive increase in demand and a corresponding surge in footfall. With the introduction of social distancing, footfall patterns changed overnight and now demand for home delivery outstrips supply.

In this constantly evolving situation, *Mitie is working in partnership with clients to keep the country’s food and essential goods supply safe and secure.


  • Social distancing – following the introduction of social distancing, Mitie has shaped and implemented new protocols, including zone demarcation and staggering customer entry into stores.
  • Protecting staff and customers – although in many ways the pandemic has fostered increased community spirit, sadly, following the introduction of restrictions of movement, there was an increase in Anti-Social Behaviour and violence towards supermarket staff. In addition, as non-food retail stores closed for lock-down, supermarkets saw a short term spike in shoplifting and associated crime.

    To combat this, Mitie’s retail security specialists at our Security Operation Centre (SOC) are deploying market leading technology, including advanced remote CCTV monitoring and our proprietary incident recording and sharing platform, Merlin. In addition, Police liaison has been heightened and security officer numbers significantly increased, reassuring staff and customers that this behaviour will not be tolerated.
  • Rapidly increasing resource – meeting the evolving challenges has required the deployment of 1,000s of extra security officers in supermarkets across the UK. This has included redeploying colleagues from sectors where there is reduced demand, as well as introducing the industry’s first ever online SIA (Security Industry Authority) licence qualification programme.

    Our unique control room protocols and market leading resourcing platform is allowing resource to be flexed in real-time, ensuring increased demand is met and supermarket staff and customers are kept safe.

Securing food and essential goods supply:

  • Keeping the ports open – HSBC states that 80% of the food consumed in Britain each year is imported, including staples like carrots and tea. Mitie provides security services in many ports across the UK. To help keep the ports open in response to the government’s social distancing guidance, Mitie has worked with Port Authorities to develop and implement new security procedures, helping to ensure food imports continue to arrive and the country’s food and essential goods stocks are replenished.
  • Distribution centres – in some ways, getting food and essential goods to the right place and the right time safely has never been more challenging. In distribution centres across the country, Mitie is working with clients to ensure security protocols, including goods handling, are adapted to meet the unique circumstances the pandemic has caused.

Our scale, collaborative and nimble approach, strong client relationships and deep industry expertise means Mitie are taking a leadership role in helping to secure the nation’s food and essential goods supply at this critical time.

*Mitie Security is the UK’s largest provider of security services to the retail sector.



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Critical Infrastructure: Keeping the UK running

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