Tough road ahead for UK businesses but it’s not all doom and gloom

Almost six months after a nationwide lockdown was declared in an attempt to contain the spread of Covid-19, it is clear that Britain is in midst of the deepest recession as GDP officially fell 19.8% % in the second quarter of 2020, the most since records began.

It seems that we are only now starting to understand the negative impact the pandemic will have on UK businesses and the overall economy, with widespread job losses and business closures predicted in the coming months. Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, companies such as Boots, Debenhams and technology retailer Dixons Carphone have announced thousands of redundancies. In August Marks and Spencer announced the largest single retrenchment in the retailer’s 136-year history which will see 7,000 job losses over next three months. Add to that Pizza Express reporting 75 restaurant closures and Pizza Hut announcing today that 29 branches are set to close which include locations in London, Glasgow and Cardiff, it seems that all industries, especially hospitality, is at risk.

But this is only one side of the coin. There are some glimmers of hope as some businesses are not only performing well but flourishing in these tough times.

Hamptworth Golf Club

One such business is Hamptworth Golf Club based on the outskirts of Hampshire. Whilst Golf is one the few activities where social distancing can easily be maintained, many clubs lost income due to a 2 month closure at the peak of the lockdown and still currently not being able serve food and drink due to Government Restrictions. However the team at Hamptworth Golf found an innovative solution to provide much needed catering for golfers.

UK businesses not all doom gloom

Director of Golf Mike Mulligan at Hamptworth Golf commented:

“We realised early on that it would be difficult for us to serve our usual food and drinks menu in the bar restaurant whilst fully complying with Government Guidelines. Therefore we utilised the outdoor patio area which overlooks the course and erected a large marquee where golfers can enjoy post golf drinks and a bite to eat. This enables us to serve food and bottled drinks from a safe station in the bar and allows golfers to keep a safe distance from one another in a semi outdoor environment. We also set up separate entrance and exit points for when golfers collect food and drinks from the bar. Most food is served in takeaway containers which gives golfers the option to enjoy their meal in the outdoor sheltered marquee, outdoor patio, at home or even in their car. We are one of the only clubs to have this in place currently, and feedback across the board has been very positive. It follows our promise to our members, visitors and their families of a ‘Covid Safe’ experience. We are seeing a resurgence of golf recently with more and more people taking up the sport, therefore it was important for us to provide them with a complete service”

Sanjha Indian Restaurant

Another business that has made some changes to better serve their customers during the pandemic is South Coast based Sanjha Indian Restaurant.

Sanjha Indian

Amar Randhawa who is owner of Sanjha said:

“We have a 50/50 split of eat in diners and takeaway. The new restrictions meant that we would be unable to accommodate full capacity in the restaurant, therefore I decided to invest in and build a robust outdoor decking area and roof directly outside of the restaurant. The space that was previously used to park two cars now provides seating for 20 diners in a safe open space which can be used all year round. With some forward planning and having a strategy, the new outdoor seating was erected just in time for the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme– as a result we saw record number of diners and an increase in income during August. The scheme and the new addition has given my business a major boost.”

carl faulds

Carl Faulds who is Managing Director of Portland Business Recovery commented:

“We are seeing a steady increase in number of administration and liquidation inquiries in the last quarter. The key to survival for some businesses is to adapt early to Government guidelines, as Hamptworth Golf and Sanjha have done so, and have a strategy in place to tackle future developments. There is no doubt that it is a tough road ahead. Consumers will be spending less due to uncertainly of job security and potentially their income dropping with the end of the payment holidays. With less disposable income businesses are likely to see a drop in customers and revenue. Portland’s advice to anyone who is concerned about their business’s financial health or cashflow is to seek advice as soon possible. Doing so will give them a better chance of turning their fortunes around – plus this allows more options and time on how they move forward. The “new normal” is changing on a daily basis, and It may sound like a cliché, but business must learn to react, adapt and evolve in order to overcome these volatile and unprecedented times.”