A message from our MD, Alice Buttling

If only we could freeze time…but we can’t and yet the Government’s assistance to business assumes that we can; that by giving employers the option to furlough their employees they are solving the current problems that businesses face.

Often the employees are keen to be furloughed so that they can stay home and stay safe, even when the employer is providing a safe place to work within all the restrictions that have been set.  The employee is working on the basis that they can get 80% of their pay (or 100% in some cases if the employer tops it up) and they can return to work in a few months when everything goes back to ‘normal’.  Unless, due to having no employees there is no business left. The doors may be closed but work still needs to be done to keep the business functioning: a garden centre with plants that need watering, a shop full of stock that needs to be paid for, a restaurant full of consumables and a landlord that needs paying.  What about the business owner that can’t furlough themselves and relies on the income to support their family? How about the business that survives 12 months of the year based purely on their season sales which carry them through off-season and their season is March to August….what happens to the lost revenue?  Suddenly all those wonderful, individual businesses set up by brave individuals or handed down through families, that are not cash positive enough to ride the storm and don’t have a few months buffer to get them though, disappear.  Then all those who were furloughed and thinking they had a job to go back to, are now redundant after all.

So, I urge everyone to think about where they spend their money right now, as it will make a real difference to what our country looks like when we come out of the other side.  The big companies like Amazon and the supermarkets stand to be the winners so far, but they don’t need our cash.  Shop local, the Co-op were the first to recruit for their stores offering jobs to people who had been made redundant within days of the virus spreading, way before the businesses knew they were protected by the furlough scheme.  Farm shops are working around the clock to provide fresh produce for us.  We don’t need to load up our trolleys (virtual or otherwise) these shops have food on their shelves every day and I guarantee you won’t find people fighting over the loo roll.  There are lots of business that are doing all they can do keep trading – restaurants offering takeaways, pubs delivering draught beer in jugs – please do all you can to support this.  One thing we don’t need right now is free next day delivery (and we won’t get it anyway) be patient, choose wisely and put your pounds in the pockets of the businesses that you really wish to buy from in the future..

And on that note, if you know anybody who has been forced to close their retail doors but they have products that they could sell direct to consumers through advertising then newspapers could be a great opportunity to keep the till ringing.  Demand is very high for anything that brings joy and can be delivered contactless – this could be fresh coffee, garden play equipment, DIY tools, books, flowers and plants, grow your own kits, clothing, jewellery, the list goes on….. We would be happy to help, advice and support any small business to try to sell direct – either on the phone or online, we will help find the best solution for them – things are changing and I have the feeling they will never be quite the same again, but in there is opportunity.