I was recently asked whether we had witnessed any corporate ‘casualties’ as a result of the Covid pandemic, the answer to which was, I am pleased to report, no. However, I fully accept that being early June, we are far from clear of the woods and still remain in a somewhat cosseted environment, with the Government Furlough scheme still in place
But even taking that into consideration, when I speak to clients, most are feeling quite optimistic and an increasing number are becoming extremely busy, which must be a positive sign. We have already had several clients starting up operations again and reducing or stopping claims for furlough altogether after the end of April and throughout May.
Whilst we stand ready to help our clients wean themselves off of the government backed ‘life support’ and return to some form of normality, there are others amongst our client base for whom the pandemic has had a positive impact on their business or that realised adaptation was the key to survival.
As an example of how clients have adapted, a lady who owns a florist quickly identified that there would be demand for garden plants. She restructured her business and started home deliveries of garden plants two weeks after lockdown. At peak she was making 40 deliveries a day while the garden centres were closed. When the restrictions started to be lifted, she opened her shop using the forecourt and effectively reopened as a garden centre rather than a florist!!
And as we rapidly became a nation of home bakers, our oldest client, a Sussex dairy farmer, benefited from higher than usual milk prices for this time of year due to the demand for butter!
Of course, there will be winners and losers – the travel sector looks like it will take many years to recover – but from where I sit, I think having such a varied client base helps. With a majority of our clients being small, owner managed businesses they seem better able to adapt and manage the trade-off between personal and commercial interests.
It may be that we witness a greater local impact some way down the line, economists still predict that we are on the eve of the biggest/longest recession in history. But at this point, I have to be led by the feedback from clients and if their optimism and willingness to adapt is anything to go by, then we may be able to avoid the mass corporate casualties that many would have predicted as we entered this.
Tony Jadzevics – Director