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Tune in Tuesday

Tune in Tuesday

Tune in Tuesday

Tune in Tuesday

Tune in Tuesday - Episode 3

Welcome to another edition of Tune in Tuesday with Orlagh. This week we discuss the effects of Covid-19 and lockdown has had on local businesses versus online retailers.

The UK lockdown commenced on the 23rd of march and saw many companies changing their operations completely. Some companies closed; others adapted to the change. Nevertheless, the lockdown of the UK and the business world had a substantial impact on all enterprises. Our Mustang Tune in Tuesday team conducted socially distanced interviews with four local businesses to discover how the lockdown changed their business operations. 

 

Online Vs the High Street

The high street has experienced a substantial decline. Mediums such as online shopping are slowly taking over, with COVID-19 only accelerating highstreets decline. Purchasing online has become a necessity with online retailers receiving more orders now than ever before. Social distancing and government guidelines have restricted many highstreets shops from operating. Many stores closed; others have had to adapt and perform online. 

The data also shows how the growth of non-store purchases has grown exponentially since the commencement of the lockdown. Our data shows the like for like percentage change in sales before the lockdown and during the lockdown. The data shows an immense reduction in in-store purchases and a significant boost in online sales. 

Who did we ask?

Sheerin Bespoke  

 

Our first tune in Tuesday interview displayed how the lockdown changed Sheerin Bespoke’s day to day business operations. Sheerin Bespoke, located in Knutsford, Cheshire, “manufacture and install kitchens and bespoke furniture”. Sheerin Bespoke, therefore, relies on customers coming into their showroom to experience the quality of bespoke furniture. 

 

In what ways has the lockdown affected your business?

 

Like many businesses, Sheerin Bespoke remained open. “It hasn’t affected us majorly we’re frozen in time for a couple of months.”

 

“We furloughed our guys in the factory, and we received a government grant that helped us for the first three months.” Despite the lockdown disrupting manufacturing and production, the change also has brought other benefits.

 

“At the moment we’re the busiest we’ve been in a long time.” As lockdown has prevented the UK population from travelling this summer, many have increased their disposable income. Mike explains that customers “arent buying cars and are spending money on the house.” Increased wealth has led to people investing more in their homes, boosting orders for the home improvement industry.

 

What do you think lies ahead for small to medium businesses?

 

“We believe the lockdown and epidemic have brought a lot of things five years forwards. What we see now is all the airlines and clothing shops will struggle immediately. However, in the long term, you’ll see a lot of products shops brands go on the internet. As a result, you’ll see less of a presence on the high street.”

 

“For us, we have coped very well we can isolate areas in the home so we can work on it. I don’t think it’ll affect many businesses within the home improvement industry.” 

M. Tracey Building Contractors Ltd 

Our next interview revealed how the lockdown had affected Michael, the company director of M. Tracey Building Contractors Ltd. Located in Burnley, Lancashire, M. Tracey Building Contractors provides maintenance work for local residents. The nature of Michaels business relies on him entering peoples homes to repair any issues. 

In what ways do you think lockdown has affected your business?

During the lockdown, some industries suffered more than others. Construction and home improvement have faced disruption due to social distancing guidelines enforced by the government. 

“The maintenance work on properties completely shut down due to not being able to get access to the properties and because of social distancing. We saw what was happening in Ireland the week before and we knew it was going to come over to the UK. Hence, we stocked up on basic roofing materials because that was one side of the business that could still operate due to the emergency work.”

Is there anything you’ve done to overcome these challenges?

Many countries experienced a nation-wide lockdown before the UK. Therefore, many businesses such as M. Tracey Building Contractors Ltd could prepare for what was to come. Preparation has allowed some companies to survive during the lockdown as the production of many materials has stopped.

“We stocked up on most materials and just concentrated on emergency work which is mainly roofing work and external repairs where we didn’t need to gain access into properties.”

What do you think lies ahead for small to medium businesses?

“Depending on what business it is it’s going to affect all businesses differently, I can only speak from our company.”

“The biggest problem is sourcing materials because there is a big shortage and that’s going to be the hardest thing.”

Logic TPS

Our next interview shared Graham’s experience. Logic TPS manufacture machinery for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, and various packaging machinery. Also based in Burnley, Logic TPS had to remain open due to the number of pharmaceutical companies as clients. 

In what ways do you think lockdown has affected your business?

We became busy, a lot of clients need urgent machinery and things like hand sanitisers. We’ve had issues with supply chain struggling to get materials. We have had problems with staff wanting furlough because their friends are sat at home on 80% and felt hard done by that they had to work hard for the extra 20%. 

Is there anything you’ve done to overcome these challenges?

“We’ve adapted working practices to try and increase social distancing between engineers. As we’re an engineering company, our health and safety measures are quite strict anyway, but PPE has increased. If people are working close to each other, we have a mandatory mask scheme and have had since the outbreak started. We’ve had to improve our forecasting on materials and get materials from alternative suppliers because our current suppliers have struggled. 

What do you think lies ahead for small to medium businesses?

“The answer to that is I wish I had a crystal ball. I’m talking to industries, competition within our industry and suppliers and customers and nobody has a clue.”

“We don’t know what’s happening with the pandemic and I’ve got suppliers in China who are now telling me they’ve got issues in Beijing. We’ll have to carry on and try and keep our heads above water until we know what’s going on.”

Precision Weighing Systems

Our final interview with John illustrated how Precision Weighing Systems has been fortunate during the UK lockdown. PWS specialises in the sales, calibration and repair of industrial, medical and laboratory weighing equipment. 

In what ways do you think lockdown has affected your business?

“Overall, our business has been very fortunate in the effect that lockdown has had on us. We haven’t had to do anybody on furlough, and we’ve had access to several sites. Our only problems have been on certain sites people don’t respect social distancing and then can become very difficult to work alongside. As precautions, we’ve got aprons, eye protection, and masks, although at most sites we haven’t had to wear them.”

What do you think lies ahead for small to medium businesses?

“For a lot, they will go out of business; it’s quite simple because of the way they operate. For a lot of companies, it won’t be easy, for other people it can be more innovative.”

“What lies ahead depends on how strict or how much the government changes the rules. From a business point of view, it’s easy to ignore things to save money, but it’s not safe to do, and it won’t continue. Overall, I don’t think anyone can predict the outcome.”

The interviews conducted by Mustangs tune in Tuesday shows a wide range of disruptions and opportunities brought by the lockdown. The extend of the interruptions depends on the type of business and what they provide. However, it is clear that for all companies, the future is uncertain. 

How has lockdown affected your business? Are you prepared to open your doors again? Do you need help with a new strategy? Let us know!

If you enjoyed Tune in Tuesday Episode 3. Don’t Forget to Tune in every week for breaking news with Orlagh.

COMING NEXT WEEK on Tune in Tuesday EPS 4 – TBC