As we cross our fingers and hope to fully emerge from lockdown in the coming weeks many companies are gearing up for the return to more familiar routines while acknowledging that the way they do business, what their customers will expect from them and the markets and climate they are trading in will in many cases have changed for good.
Progeny’s corporate law team have supported and advised countless businesses throughout the pandemic, enabling them to keep pursuing their commercial objectives throughout. We asked members of the team, along with two business leaders, for their views on the trading environment and what their priorities will be in the months ahead.
Alistair Scott-Somers, Director, Corporate Law, Progeny:
“The immediate priority for many businesses will be to get people back into the office safely, working and operating appropriately and in keeping with the government guidelines. As we have done at Progeny, some companies will no doubt retain an element of flexibility around working arrangements, allowing staff to balance office and home-working in ways that bring benefits to both parties. There’ll also be the need to provide a range of support to employees as they return, to reflect the likely range of attitudes – everyone will be different in their appetite for re-entering the office environment.
“Hopefully revenue streams will get back up to pre-Covid levels, allowing businesses then to get back to concentrating on encouraging growth, organically or through new business. Additionally, this year we have seen the general consumer focus more closely on the bigger environmental and social picture, and in turn businesses recognising that their impact in these areas will also need to be a prominent part of their corporate strategy and customer relationships, if it isn’t already. The time for sitting on the fence or failing to act on these issues is over.”
Case study – Bishopsound
BishopSound design and manufacture speakers for public performance, reproducing the ‘Great British sound’, for many famous DJs, the Glastonbury Festival and bands like Elbow, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ocean Colour Scene.
“As one of the first industries to shut and now the last to open, live events have faced numerous challenges over the last year. In the wake of the pandemic, venues were closed, exhibitions cancelled, and events were immediately asked to stop in order to adhere to guidelines. With the added complexities of non-sector-specific support from the government and the stop-start nature of lockdowns, years of meticulous planning for each event or performance has had to be abandoned. Although there’s light at the end of the tunnel, it will be months before we see full-fledged live events safely return to their former glory, and at the scale these talented professionals are used to.
“What’s breathing life back into the sector is the optimism of the public and incredible collaboration within the supply chain. Since #WeMakeEvents formed in April 2020, hundreds of freelancers, businesses, and members of the live events supply chain have worked together voluntarily to raise awareness of an industry in need. Events such as ‘Light It In Red’ and now ‘Rave2Recovery’ on 12th June, drum up support, and we hope to continue building on this positive momentum, with the correct government backing, as everyone eagerly awaits the return of live entertainment.”
Andrew Bishop, Bishopsound
Zee Hussain, Associate Director, Corporate Law, Progeny:
“Many companies have been in survival mode over the past year. Businesses understandably have been dealing with numerous challenges, but like Progeny, plenty have been preparing in anticipation of times getting better rather than just fire-fighting in the here and now.
“Transitioning to online and remote working has enabled many sectors to continue operating, with many businesses realising that it is within their capabilities to undertake more of their work digitally and remotely. This is a development that certainly appears to be set to stay as businesses adapt and develop into the new world with the freedom of a flexible workforce and of not having to rely on external sources to enable work to be completed.
“Across the employment market, there has been an increase in the number of people available, meaning that there has been talent out there for ambitious businesses to bring on board.”
Case study – Rakusen’s
Based in Leeds, Rakusen’s has been producing water crackers since 1900 and were the first manufacturer in the UK to do so.
“We are primarily a branded retail food business and as such have continued to manufacture since the start of the pandemic. I am fortunate to work with a team of people who have absolutely seen it as their responsibility to keep going regardless of the challenges.
“Looking to the future we have a series of issues to deal with including the fall out of Covid/Brexit, the Government obesity strategy, net zero and plastic reduction, to name but a few. However, these also present opportunities for us. Everything we manufacturer is vegan, dairy and nut-free, be it wheat or gluten-free crackers. All of our flour comes from a mill in East Yorkshire – great for food miles. In addition, the vast majority of our crackers are low in fat/salt/sugar. So even though we have been around since 1900 we are well set from a consumer and product viewpoint going forward.
“Our challenge as a SME is getting the message out to the consumer whilst managing the increasing demands from our customers and Government and public bodies. On a broader point, as a UK manufacturer we need less but clearer direction from Government and public bodies plus real financial support to deliver the required programmes, be they net zero or plastic reduction. The costs to business are high with limited if any financial pay-back.”
Andrew Simpson, Managing Director, Rakusen’s
Philip Jordan, Senior Legal Counsel, Progeny, said:
“We have remained committed to helping businesses overcome the challenges of the trading climate of the past year or so, as well as the logistics of working through the lockdown.
“With the framework of advice we can offer, bringing together independent financial planning, asset management, tax, HR and private and corporate legal services we’re ideally positioned to support our clients and to help them and their businesses to survive and thrive through these unprecedented times.
“The trading circumstances we find ourselves in have thrown up unprecedented challenges, but these should be no excuse or obstacle to businesses seeking to press on with their commercial progress.”
If your business requires corporate legal support, please get in touch.