Business as unusual: returning to growth
To say that the last year has been extraordinary would be an understatement. With all but the minority of organisations suffering during the pandemic, annual reports have made for sorrowful reading.
However, as the saying goes: out of adversity comes opportunity. The pandemic has enabled businesses, even listed ones, to act differently from normal; simply because nothing is currently normal. Shareholders and the City were primed for ‘bad’ so as long as the receivers were avoided, the varying scales of bad were relatively immaterial.
That’s not to say that the C-suite took their eye off the ball and put their feet up for a few months. Absolutely not. The canny ones have been busily making changes that during business as usual they’d have struggled to implement due to a responsibility to the numbers and the scrutiny of the stakeholders. But the return to growth will be the time of reckoning. And it seems this could be earlier than expected. Initial signs show that that the UK economy is rebounding more quickly than predicted. As reported recently in the FT, millions of us braved some of the worst May weather on record all for a soggy pint in the rain. Unsurprisingly perhaps, due to pent up demand, restaurant and pub sales are way above pre-pandemic levels with many establishments remaining fully booked despite the delay of freedom Day. Analysis of the data shows a more rapid rebound than after the reopening following Lockdown #1 when the Chancellor was forced to reinvigorate spending through his ‘Rishi’s Dishes’ initiative (which was subsequently blamed for Lockdown #2). Also last month, there was evidence of an uplift for the high street, despite the torrential rain. For example, consumer spending between May 17th and May 19th rose 10 per cent on the levels recorded for the same period two years previously. And since the ban on travel was listed planes are packed of sun-starved Brits with demand for seats high, irrespective of the cost of pre- and post-holiday Covid testing and the distinct lack of Green-list countries.
Another good indicator of the return to growth is recruitment. And signs are positive across all sectors. The British Chamber of Commerce’s most recent Recruitment Outlook showed that the number of businesses expecting to shrink their workforce over the next quarter had dropped by 36 per cent and the number of organisations gearing up to recruit over the next three months rose by a staggering 42 per cent.
All the signs are there that this could be ‘the big return’. And the playing field has never been more level. It’s a standing start for pretty much everyone meaning there is significant market share to be grappled over. Again – opportunity from adversity.
If nothing else, what the last 18 months has taught us is to expect the unexpected and be prepared for change. In the longer term, the organisations that will emerge strongly will be those that have the strength and leadership to stay true to their strategic goals, but the flexibility and agility to respond to the changing needs of their customers.
Manfred Abraham, Co-CEO, Yonder Consulting
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Manfred Abraham; Yonder .
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