Hands in Heart

Message from the President

A message from Bunzl Canada President, John Howlett


As all of us at Bunzl continue to work hard to serve you through the challenging circumstances surrounding COVID-19, I would like to recognize, thank and let all front line and essential service workers, including our own employees, know that we stand behind you, and are working together with you, as we face, deal with and defeat this terrible virus.

COVID-19 has created a set of generational circumstances and outcomes the likes of which we’ve never seen. The “New Normal” will be very different in countless ways, but one area we know will change dramatically is in cleaning and hygiene in public spaces. The resources devoted to complete these important tasks will be seen as business-critical. The people who perform them will be seen as vital and, finally, will receive the respect and regard from the general public they so deserve. Their employers’ service fees will be seen less as an expense to be driven down, and more as an investment and value-creator. Requirements for personal protective equipment and ongoing training for front-line cleaning personnel will increase. The ability for building owners, managers and service contractors to monitor and report on compliance will be expected and required. 

The contagious nature of this virus and the surge in demand for the PPE and cleaning supplies required to protect everyone has also created a serious imbalance between supply and demand of all critical items. Unfortunately, this imbalance will continue to widen in the short term as the demand for these products continues to grow, not only for front line essential workers, but also for the general population.

It seems reasonable to expect that usage will eventually begin to flatten, allowing supply to catch up with demand. However, though suppliers of these important products, both domestically and off-shore, are working feverishly to increase capacity, their efforts to balance supply with demand could take anywhere from 6 to 18 months. There are three reasons for this:

  1. Demand will continue to increase as social distancing, use of PPE and increased focus on hygiene becomes common amongst the general population.
  2. Canada's supply of these critical products is, for the most part, purchased from outside of Canada, putting us in line with other nations sourcing their domestic needs in a period of supply shortages.
  3. As the economy begins to restart, a second surge in demand is expected as businesses and institutions begin sourcing and placing orders as they prepare to reopen.


To address the supply issue for you, we have created a dedicated Critical Product Supply Team. Since the start of the pandemic, this group of supply chain experts has been specifically focused on managing the supply of PPE and cleaning products. We have also leveraged the strength of our partnerships with domestic and global suppliers to put us in a priority position for the allocation of product as it becomes available. Still, the orders we are placing to meet our customers’ needs far exceed the suppliers’ pacing and the volume of product we are allocated. 

As a result, we have been and are working hard on the following:

  1. Maintaining a priority position for our current essential service customers for product as it becomes available.
  2. Continuing to search the globe for ethical, compliant and high quality sources of supply to increase the availability of critical items to all of our customers.
  3. Working with the Federal and Provincial governments to assist with the set-up of a domestic manufacturing base to help Canada become self-sufficient in supply of critical items.
  4. Investigating, sourcing and collaborating on the development of new innovations, protocols and compliance monitoring for cleaning and disinfecting to ensure healthy, safe and productive facilities. 


We continue to engage with our vendor partners daily and will provide you with updated information as we receive it. Should you have any questions, please direct them to your account representative.

We wish you, your colleagues and your families continued good health.

Warm regards,


John Howlett

President, Bunzl Canada