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UK’s Sainsbury’s to assist smaller suppliers during coronavirus pandemic

LONDON (Reuters) – British supermarket Sainsbury’s <SBRY.L> said on Wednesday it would help its smaller suppliers during the coronavirus emergency by paying them immediately and making finance available.

The country’s supermarket sector is facing unprecedented demand during the outbreak as consumers stock-up fearing a prolonged period of isolation, while schools, pubs, cafes and restaurants have been forced to close.

Sainsbury’s, Britain’s second largest supermarket group after Tesco <TSCO.L>, said its assistance to smaller suppliers will help them to increase production volumes quickly so they can meet customer demand.

“We want to support our suppliers and partners because it is vital that we all help each other during this challenging time,” said commercial director Paul Mills-Hicks.

The group said it will pay nearly 1,500 suppliers who have less than 100,000 pounds ($119,450) annual turnover with it immediately. Earlier this month, Morrisons <MRW.L>, the No. 4 player, did similar.

Sainsbury’s said it would also support suppliers with vital cash flow where needed.

The group is also extending its help to tenants and concession partners. As a first step, it is offering all tenants the opportunity to pay rent on a monthly basis as opposed to quarterly in advance.

(Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle)