Stores gradually reopen and colleagues return to work
For weeks, many stores in Europe were closed, employees stayed at home and customers went online. Now, more and more countries are easing the lockdowns.
JYSK stores are starting to reopen for customers, while employees are going back to work with enthusiasm and with a big smile under their protective masks.
GOJYSK.com asked some of our colleagues from Germany, Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria what they missed the most during these weeks and how they feel going back to the stores and serving customers again.
Learning to smile with their eyes in Germany
All 965 stores in Germany were closed on March the 19th. One month later, they gradually reopened, starting with the smaller stores. Our colleagues from Germany went back to work, keeping in mind that it is important to comply with conditions and to implement measures that should help to further contain the coronavirus.
Marcel Dunkelberg, Store Manager in Hann.-Münden, north of Kassel, was happy to have a daily routine again.
“I have a garden where there is always something to do, but it is something different to open the store in the morning and rock the day with my team,” says Marcel.
He and his team were in the middle of the renovation of the store, when they got the news that they can reopen the store.
"Everyone contributed with their ideas, so that we were finally able to start with an attractive store and perfectly implemented distance and hygiene rules. But people are much more relaxed. More care is taken. Of course, it is a bit strange for us to work with a face mask now. But we are now learning to smile with our eyes,” says Marcel.
The store in Flensburg, near the German-Danish border, was also among the stores that reopened in mid-April. Store manager Claudia Böhme missed the feeling of being needed the most.
"As a Store Manager, you are always right in the middle of things, you have to organise, take care and keep everything going. And of course I missed the satisfaction of being successful at the end of the day," Claudia says.
Going back to work also meant making sure the store is ready to operate under the new conditions imposed by the situation.
"We are one of the stores with lots of retail space and a large outdoor area. We had a lot to measure and see where and what we can block off. On the one hand, we had to comply with the 800 m² corona rule that applies in Schleswig-Holstein, and on the other hand we wanted to present the garden furniture and the whole outdoor range in the best possible way. Before the start there was a team meeting so that everyone familiarised themselves with the special corona rules. And so we had a completely successful reopening,” says Claudia.
Back to meeting customers in Czech Republic
All 90 stores in Czech Republic closed for customers in mid-March. For a few weeks they operated in a limited mode, delivering goods that were bought through Click & Collect. The store staff continued to meet during regular shifts, but they did not meet customers in person for more than a month. On 27 April, almost all stores in Czech Republic reopened for customers.
Karel Žaludek, Store Manager of the Ostrava Zábřeh store, remembers that they were expecting the stores closing, taking into consideration the media reports. During the past two months, the store staff was busy putting everything in place:
"We mainly focused on the general cleaning of the store, warehouse, kitchen, and cloakrooms. We tidied up the spare parts and also all documents in the files. We just put everything in 100% condition. The rest of the time we invested in checking the quality of assembly of the furniture on the sales floor as well as in checking the correct setting of DM values and missing IDGs. We also fulfilled tasks set by our District Manager - such as counting inventories. During this period, we were able to do 3 weekly inventories at once,“ says Karel.
The first day after the store reopened was challenging.
"We were visited by many enthusiastic customers that day, whether it was a purchase, a C&C pick-up, or an exchange of goods that could not be processed during the closing of the stores. It's great to work under normal conditions again and meet customers in person. To meet customers face to face and provide them with the best service and the opportunity to try the furniture in person can hardly be replaced by anything else,“ he concludes.
Iveta Scharzbachová, Store Manager in the Mladá Boleslav store, about 50 km northeast of Prague, says they wanted to create an enjoyable environment for the customers after the store reopened.
"We are glad we are open again. In JYSK we are oriented on the best customer service and we missed the contact with our customers very much. And based on their first reaction from our reopening they've missed us as well. I really feel the two-sided relationship here. There's no better feedback than the customer saying: We missed you!“ says Iveta.
While the store was closed, Iveta and her colleagues decided to help those who were less lucky. They donated their Easter presents and home-made surgical masks to the children's clinic in Jičín city.
"The lack of human contact is distinguishable and apparent in these hard times to all of us. Fortunately, we all are healthy so we can help others,“ said Iveta.
Being active again in Romania
For one month, all 85 stores in Romania were closed. Since 23 April, 11 stores that are not situated in shopping centres were allowed to reopen.
Annamaria Voica is Store Manager in Balș, a small city in the southern part of the country. She had just started working in JYSK when the State of Emergency was imposed by the Government and the stores were closed.
"I have been working for 8 years and I have never had a vacation longer than two weeks. I have just been hired in JYSK and I would have liked to know my colleagues sooner, to get to know the products and procedures. For me, everything was delayed because we closed. I missed talking to people, both colleagues and customers. We have a group on WhatsApp and we shared what we were cooking, what activities we were doing at home, we tried to interact with each other online, even though we could not meet in person. I am very happy we came back to work,” she says.
Delia Bututoiu, Sales Assistant in Bucharest Fizicienilor, missed the feeling of being useful while staying at home.
"I always want to be active. For the moment we are the only store open in Bucharest so we are quite busy. Before the reopening I felt like we were preparing for a store opening. We had to rearrange everything and replace all the labels, just as we do when we open a new store,” says Delia.
Vălenii de Munte is the smallest city in Romania that has a JYSK store. David Gheorghe Cătălin, who is a Sales Assistant there, missed the routine of going to work.
"Your life is more organised when you go to work. When I found out that we will reopen, I was happy I will see my colleagues again. I am also happy that the customers respect the preventive measures we have to follow in the store. We had many customers in the first day after the reopening and they told us they were eager to come shop in our store again. Most of them were looking for garden furniture,” says David.
Motivated to have a great comeback in Bulgaria
Shopping malls have been closed in Bulgaria since March. So are 5 of the stores that operate in shopping centres. There is still no known date when these store will be able to reopen.
Ivanka Nikolova is a Sales Assistant in our Sofia Ring Mall store. She loves the fact that her job is dynamic, she likes to offer a great service to customers and she likes her team.
“One of the main reasons I feel good at work is the dynamics of the job. Serving customers, offering a competent service makes each day different. My colleagues are my second family. I am used to spending most of my days with them, working side by side, having fun and pursuing the goals set by our company. We are a close team and I would rather say that we are friends, not colleagues. It is impossible not to miss my friends,” says Ivanka.
During her time at home, she read, she studied more and followed the results of the stores that are still open.
“At first this made me sad, because I also wanted to be able to share my results each day. After a while sadness was replaced by motivation. I am now motivated to have a great start as soon as we will reopen the store,” she says.