Contributed by LLoyds Bank
1/09/2021 - LLoyds Bank
Covid-19 prompted a wave of innovation as businesses pivoted their operations to survive, according to a Lloyds Bank survey.
More than two fifths (45%) of East of England businesses said the pandemic forced them to be more creative and innovative in finding new areas of growth.
Almost three fifths (56%) have made changes to their operations since the start of the pandemic, such as expanding their online sales offering (17%), and expanding its range of products and services (17%).
Crucially, a significant number of businesses are benefiting from the pivots, with almost half (49%) saying that they will keep their changes in the long term. And it is already paying dividends with a fifth (19%) of firms saying that their operational changes have boosted revenues and profits.
Suffolk firm Stokes Sauces used the lockdown to pivot away from the food service and hospitality sectors towards retail, homing in on new product development.
Chris Reeve, Commercial Finance Director at Stokes Sauces, explains: “During the lockdown, we decided to tilt the business towards the retail sector, which has helped to put our products in front of more people than ever before. We’ve also ramped up our social media activity to help promote our products.”
Dave Atkinson, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank, said: “We know that businesses across the East of England have shown real resilience over the past 18 months, in the face of unprecedented conditions. But what’s interesting is that so many are now making permanent the changes that helped them to weather the storm of Covid-19, given the positive impact they have had on revenue and profit.
“We know, though, that it hasn’t been easy for so many businesses. We’re committed to working alongside firms across the East of England, providing the capital and support they need to recover and drive growth in the coming months.”
The UK and sector picture
Across the UK half of businesses (48%) said that the pandemic had forced them to be more innovative and 56% made changes to their operations as a result. The most common changes included selling more online (21%) and adapting shift patterns (20%).
Manufacturers were most likely to make changes to their operating patterns (28% vs 20% UK average) and to expand the products they offered (22% vs 17%). Retail was the top sector for expanding online offerings (25% vs 21% UK average), buoyed by the shift to online consumer spending.
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