We have responded rapidly to an evolving situation and are taking every necessary action to protect the interests of all our stakeholders.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on all our lives with the temporary restrictions and lockdowns across many countries leading to changes in consumer behaviour and in our operating environments. However, the business has been relatively well positioned to navigate these challenges.
Throughout, we have prioritised the health and safety of our people and have always strictly adhered to guidance from governments and public health authorities.
It is a credit to our manufacturing and supply chain colleagues that they have managed to keep the vast majority of our factories operating throughout the crisis, ensuring that our customers and consumers around the world are able to continue to enjoy their favourite brands.
We have implemented a range of measures to support the health safety and wellbeing of our people around the world and our people are doing a tremendous job in dealing with the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19.
We have strengthened our IT infrastructure and accelerated the roll-out of software to facilitate team-working to support employees working from home. Our sales teams have done an outstanding job in maintaining relationships with retailers and have safely returned to the field where local restrictions allow.
For field and manufacturing employees we have strict protocols in place and all relevant personal protective equipment is provided. We advocate flexible working and have encouraged our people to find a routine that works best for them and their families. We communicate regularly with employees and have initiated a number of surveys to check-in on their well-being. Feedback tells us that overall, employees continue to feel positive despite the challenging circumstances.
Each market globally has local guidance on their leave of absence policy relating to COVID-19. Guidance is given on how to self-isolate if an employee develops symptoms of the coronavirus and what they can do about approaching their work and managing their home responsibilities. We also provide guidance on managing personal hygiene, the cessation of visitors at Imperial Brands sites and travel.
We have continued to pay all employees in the normal way during the pandemic. We have supplied employees with the tools to work from home where possible, safely and sustainably. For example we have global guidance on safe working, staying well and useful tips and online resources to help cope with a new way of working. Currently, many offices across the globe remain shut or are running at reduced capacity to ensure the welfare of all employees is upheld.
Our operations benefit from a diversified supply chain and factory footprint, which has had to respond to rapid changes in demand and operating conditions. We have 38 factories and it is a credit to our manufacturing teams they have kept the vast majority operating throughout the crisis. This has been achieved with reconfigured factory layouts and changing shift patterns to ensure infection controls and social distancing measures are in place to protect the safety of our people. We have prioritised the manufacture of major product lines to build contingency stocks with our finished goods inventories averaging around 8-10 weeks.
We also recognise the impact COVID-19 is having on the wider communities in which we operate. For more on the impact of the pandemic on our business, and the ways in which we have responded to support our stakeholders, see our 2020 Annual Report.
The UK Government requires businesses to publish the results of their COVID-19 risk assessments. For a summary of the steps we’ve taken to keep our UK employees, contractors and visitors safe please click here