Just Eat's UK managing director Andrew Kenny is the first to admit it's been a challenging couple of weeks, felt not only by his team but across the wider takeaway sector as a whole.
For the platform's regular couriers, who have served six weeks or more and were unable to work due to contracting the virus or were self-isolating, an emergency relief programme equating to two-thirds of their average weekly earnings has also been announced and last week, a discount programme was launched for 1.3 million NHS workers, designed to make life a little easier for those working longer hours on the front lines and with limited time to cook at home.
"It is not in any way business as usual for restaurant partners, nor for Just Eat for that matter," Kenny said. Despite many of the company's 35,700 restaurant partners suspending operations due to staffing and supply issues – including heavyweights McDonald's, Greggs, KFC and Burger King – Kenny said the delivery platform had been "very fortunate" to have taken orders last weekend for 20,000 restaurants across the country.
"On the restaurant side, there is clearly a lot more interest in casual dining restaurants joining the platform. We have seen a surge for demand in delivery over a number of years now, and a crisis like this is manifesting that even further. We are inundated with restaurants trying to sign up and want to help them join as quickly as possible," he added.
Many restaurants have closed delivery options, but Just Eat is obviously keen to support those remaining open.
Kenny added: "I speak to restaurants large and small every day. Each one has had to take steps that's right for their business.
"We have been trying to support restaurants, whether that's simplifying complexity across menus, reducing delivery radius to control demand, or advising on operating on reduced opening hours to make sure they can fulfil orders with the limited resources they have so they can maintain a cashflow. Operators are some of the most resilient and hard-working individuals you'll ever come across."
As for the most popular takeaways being devoured by Brits across 95% of UK postcodes (Just Eat's reach) during lockdown, Kenny said: "For midweek occasions we typically see healthier dishes being ordered – ramen, burrito, sushi – and at weekends you'll still see the more indulgent takeaway experience. Clearly as a lot more families are at home, bundles are very popular right now and we have families sharing a pizza."
Last Friday Just Eat launched a 25% discount for NHS staff on takeaway deliveries. Kenny said: "We went as quickly as we could. We had some tech work around NHS email addresses that was required to get live as they have to punch out a voucher code. It was all hands on deck for a number of days. All the teams were desperate to help in any way they could."
The offer has been used by more than 40,000 NHS staff so far, predominately at home, and that the discount will be reviewed after Easter along with the other initiatives.
From an employer's perspective, Kenny believes there is a sense that they are all in this together, but is mindful that, three weeks into working from home, some staff will be under more pressure than usual.
"We have to be extra vigilant right now, in terms of our teams' emotional wellbeing," he said. "We have some individuals working from tiny flat-shares and others working around childcare. It's a very unusual period. We have all had to learn how to be more adaptable and more resilient as we work our way through this."