Directors should plan for innovative UK manufacturing to revive their businesses post-Coronavirus

UK manufacturing was in dire straits even at the onset of the Coronavirus lockdown, with the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) reporting output dropping at its fastest pace since 1975 in the first quarter of 2020.

As it progressed the pandemic and lockdown revealed many weaknesses in the global supply chain, most notably in the availability of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for frontline health and care workers.

However, it is often said that in disaster there are also opportunities and many businesses demonstrated their agility in switching their usual production to manufacturing both PPE and sanitising equipment, for example.

But, as attitudes change, so the opportunities for innovation increase and it is a good time for directors to start planning strategies for not only producing essential supply chain elements within the UK but also for devising new products to fit the new agendas.

The UK Government has announced two initiatives aimed to protect UK...

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A complex jigsaw puzzle for directors in planning a post-coronavirus retail strategy

As more restrictions are relaxed, allowing increasing numbers of retailers to re-open, directors have many issues to consider when planning their retail strategy for recovery.

Given that High Street retail was already in serious trouble, directors need to address a number of complex questions to assess their chances of survival and develop their retail strategy for reopening, short-term survival and growth.

This will include understanding and meeting the interests of many stakeholders including customers, staff, suppliers, landlords, investors and regulators.

Reducing overheads is likely to be key, given the need to include social distancing measures that will inevitably limit numbers in-store at any one time, thus reducing the number of transactions that can be achieved in any working day. This raises the question of whether or not the business is viable as it needs sufficient revenue to cover the cost of staffing, utilities, rent and related premises expenses while also generating...

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If remote working becomes the new normal businesses must pay attention to GDPR

Remote working has enabled some businesses to carry on throughout the coronavirus lockdown but have they paid enough attention to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations)?

As more businesses open up with the easing of restrictions a combination of more stringent safety measures in workplaces and a realisation that they can carry on successfully with remote working may lead many to adopt remote working as part of their normal business practice.

GDPR was brought in in May 2018 in the UK to strengthen data protection for individuals. It imposed significant financial penalties, as much as 4% of a company’s annual turnover, for breaches and failures.

However, research by the IT support company ILUX, among 2000 remote workers during lockdown revealed that one in ten believed that their expected working practices were not GDPR compliant.

A combination of these workers using their own IT equipment and inadequate IT support from their employers at a time of crisis was partly to blame...

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Are you prepared for the next crisis?

planning strategy May 28, 2020

Finance may be a primary consideration but it is not the only cost to a business in preparation for a crisis.

Being ill-prepared can damage the relationship with customers and employees, and ultimately, if the crisis is badly handled, it can damage the business’ reputation.

Complex, fast-moving threats to organizations can happen at any time, so being prepared for a crisis is about having the right people having been trained with communication tools and strategy in place ahead of an inevitable yet unforeseen event.

Business management consultants Mossadams produced a useful cost management guide to dealing with a crisis in April 2020, which sets out six elements to pay attention to. These are strategy (covering a customer analysis, product mix, recovery plan and financial forecast), assessing operating models, the trade-off between risks and opportunities, a situation analysis and a financial analysis.

According to the Harvard Business Review ...

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What is the difference between a Depression and a Recession?

Both a recession and a depression are characterised by an economic decline but the difference between them is down to the length of their duration with depressions lasting years.

An economy is defined as being in recession when there have been two consecutive quarters in which growth as measured by GDP (Growth Domestic Product) has contracted.

This is usually caused by a reduction in business activity and consumer confidence, such that businesses may start laying off employees and cutting back on production and on investment as their focus shifts almost entirely to their cash flow and balance sheet.

In the most recent recession, in 2008, the precipitating factor was a liquidity crisis that began in the USA where banks had lent what was perceived to be too much money on what came to be seen as risky mortgages on which borrowers then defaulted. This resulted in a loss of confidence in banks, which declined to lend to each other which in turn led to a liquidity crisis.

Recessions are...

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The Phases for dealing with a pandemic involving Zoonotic diseases

coronavirus covid-19 May 21, 2020

In 1999 the WHO (World Health Organisation) devised a blueprint based on Phases for dealing with a pandemic, subsequently updated in 2005.

It set out six Phases, to provide a global framework to aid countries to prepare for a pandemic and plan their response.

The first three Phases cover animal transmission escalating to domesticated animals and eventually germs spreading to humans defined as a Zoonotic disease. These initial phases also deal with the preparation, capacity development and response planning activities, while the last three Phases deal with the response and mitigation efforts when a disease transmits from human to human.

Phase 4 deals with verified human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal virus and its ability to cause “community-level outbreaks”.  Phase 5 deals with the human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region and the sixth Phase is the Pandemic Phase where virus transmits from human-to-human in...

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Potential Coronavirus pandemic business winners and losers

Given the slight easing of Coronavirus-related restrictions a week ago, some businesses are in the very early stages of preparing to return to “normal” but which businesses are likely to emerge as the winners and losers in the future?

The Insolvency Service is now publishing its figures monthly and the April figures were released last week. They reported that “numbers of companies and individuals entering insolvency in April 2020 broadly returned to pre-lockdown March levels for most insolvency types” and their figures showed that total company insolvencies in April 2020 had decreased by 17% when compared to April 2019, with a total of 1,196 company insolvencies of which the majority were CVLs (Company Voluntary Liquidations). These numbers suggest no influence in insolvency from Coronavirus yet.

The figures come with a warning, however, that the operation of courts and tribunals had been much reduced, HMRC had reduced enforcement activity and there were...

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How will work patterns change once Coronavirus restrictions have eased?

When working life resumes properly once Coronavirus restrictions have eased people may find that their work patterns are substantially different from previously.

While, sadly, some SMEs will not have survived others may find that their agility and perhaps new innovations introduced during lockdown will have given their businesses a new lease of life for the future.

Those who have shown consideration for their employees, suppliers and customers will have built up a level of goodwill that will stand them in good stead for the future.

I shall examine in another blog those businesses, sectors and processes that may benefit from the changed landscape but in this blog I am focusing on the likely changes to business work patterns and the relationships between employers and their stakeholders.

Because, of course, employers are also people, they will have discovered that they and their families are no more immune to the health risks of the pandemic than any of their employees.

This may well...

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It is likely that there will be a permanent change in people’s behaviour post lockdown?

How people’s behaviour might change post lockdown is something that may be crucial for SMEs in planning ahead.

While it may be a long time yet before the Covid-19 lockdown is removed completely, following the Prime Minister’s briefing at the weekend, the process of relaxing the lockdown restrictions is now underway.

Despite the financial support that has been provided to businesses and workers it is becoming clear that we shall not return swiftly to a pre coronavirus level of business for some time and before we do many businesses will not survive, especially if the recovery takes a long time and the post lockdown landscape is substantially different.

Much depends on businesses’ ability to recover, on how long it will take them to recover and on how much people will change their behaviour as a result of the crisis.

A key to business survival is communication by leaders to deliver the information and direction everyone needs when a large scale crisis hits....

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Is it time to introduce more resilient business systems for post-lockdown?

Just in time (JIT) business systems of supply for everything from supermarket stocks to manufacturing components and raw materials have been the dominant model for some years.

While it offers huge benefits, including less storage space needed and less capital tied up in stocks, the disruption caused by measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic has revealed some major flaws in the model.

When such an integrated global supply chain breaks down as has happened recently the impact on business is considerable where shortages of stock have arisen due to road, sea and air freight grinding to a near-halt.

Indeed, JIT relies on many different components arriving on time often from myriad sources such that any one item can bring all production to a halt. The current situation has magnified the vulnerability since all the different supply chains will need to be fixed before production can resume..

Systems resilience describes a system’s ability to operate during a major disruption or...

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