Chadwicks spends €200,000 gearing up to reopen branches

Irish builders’ merchanting group invests in Covid-19 safety of customers and staff

Chadwicks Group chief executive Patrick Atkinson: since coronavirus closure, the company has been operating at 15-20 per cent of total turnover.

Chadwicks Group chief executive Patrick Atkinson: since coronavirus closure, the company has been operating at 15-20 per cent of total turnover.

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Chadwicks Group, a company with 50 builders’ merchanting branches across the State, has spent more than €200,000 to get ready to reopen to customers next week.

The company, a subsidiary of listed builders’ merchanting company Grafton Group, said it had installed perspex screens across its store estate, re-ordered its yards to allow people to collect products, and implemented policies to have a reduced number of customers in store at any one time.

Its employees have also completed an e-learning course on Covid-19 in the workplace before they return on May 18th.

Under the Government’s roadmap for reopening the economy, hardware retailers are among the cohort allowed to open from next week. Chadwicks caters primarily to the construction trade but also has retail customers, particularly in its bathrooms and kitchens businesses.

Emergency deliveries

Patrick Atkinson, Chadwicks chief executive, said the company had slowly been getting its staff back to work and the lockdown had given the company “an opportunity to put measures in place to make sure our colleagues and customers are safe”.

While the company’s outlets have been closed for the most part, it has been operating emergency deliveries for the Health Service Executive and for work on social housing sites. For the past number of weeks, Mr Atkinson said the company had been operating at about 15-20 per cent of total turnover.

Chadwicks will bring all of its 1,350 staff back to work. The company has not implemented any redundancies and has availed of the Government’s wage subsidy scheme.

Upgrade programme

Chadwicks had been nearing the end of a €5 million investment programme when the Covid-19 pandemic shut the economy. This included an IT upgrade and rebranding of the company’s estate, which was due to be completed in April. Mr Atkinson said that it would likely be August or September before that was now finalised.

Grafton Group was initially established as Chadwicks (Dublin) before being renamed in 1987. The company acquired Heiton Buckley, along with the Panelling Centre, in 2005.

The Irish merchanting arm also controls a number of shops previously owned by independent retailers such as Telfords in Co Laois, Cork Builders Providers, Davies in Dublin and Morgans Timber, also in Dublin. Woodie’s DIY is a sister company under the Grafton umbrella.

Mr Atkinson said Chadwicks would have to do a “complete review” of its capital investments going forward, “when we understand what the new normal looks like”. He added that housing output this year would likely fall to between 16,000 and 18,000 units.