COVID-19 Business Case Study 
Dealing with China and the Far East daily, logistics and maritime services provider, Cory Brothers, saw early on the effects of COVID-19. 

Published in Suffolk Director Magazine Summer/Autumn 2020

COVID-19 Case Study: Shipping and Logistics


Marketing Manager, Mike Bowden explained. 

“Our agents throughout China were reducing services and having to send staff home. We knew then that it would have a big impact. So, when the virus started to spread internationally, we acted fast and in accordance with what our friends in China advised. 

Respond quickly

We have learnt that during a pandemic, it’s important to take action quickly. Within a few days we sourced extra kit to enable full homeworking for ALL staff; tested it and rolled it out. We also made sure the offices were made safe, introducing handwash and sanitiser protocols etc. Trade did change although not for 3-6 weeks as so much of what we do is supply chain and there is a time lag. Imports slowed down, but unexpectedly exports really increased. 

When we entered lockdown, the workforce quickly deployed to working from home (WFH) where, after fixing some glitches around home printing and paperwork processing, all divisions have been working efficiently. Regular communications are crucial to ensure everyone is quickly informed and knows what is going on. As a group we didn’t furlough anyone; in fact, before lockdown our MD addressed everyone to tell them they would be looked after and paid. Our HR team has been outstanding in the face of such quick and dramatic change and dealing with so many requests. We’ve always placed great importance on mental health and already had a strategy. This continues to be a real benefit as we all have heightened levels of stress and anxiety. 

The positives that have come from this situation: 

Firstly, the WFH conundrum has been well and truly resolved. The enforced measure of trust for our people to work and do what is needed has been amazing. We have a truly great team of motivated people who continue to go above and beyond to keep the “engines running” and our customers happy. 

Secondly, our new-found technology skills “worldwide” have changed the way we communicate and are the new normal. We look forward to the day when we can return to face to face meetings, but they will be with a mix of virtual meetings too. 

The lessons learnt include: 

• The ability to react speedily during a fast-developing situation. You won’t always get it right but don’t dither. 

• Trusting your instincts and your team. When you all know that “we’re truly in it together” the galvanised spirit of the collective really helps to drive you on. 

• Being honest and clear to all stakeholders; not everyone will see it as you do and others will react in a way that isn’t helpful, but most will have reason and balance. Being polite and kind is just as important as it has always been. 

A business with a history

As a business Cory Brothers has been trading for 178 years and has seen famines, pandemics and world wars. We’re still here because the previous custodians have managed the business with care and been able to adapt. It is our aim to ensure that continues.” 


Mike Bowden is Group Marketing & Procurement Manager at Cory Brothers. Visit: Twitter: @corylogisticsLinkedIn: Cory Bros Shipping Agency Ltd Facebook: Cory Brothers Shipping Agency Ltd

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