Swindon firms were forced to innovate to survive as Covid swept country, according to new survey

August 20, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic prompted a wave of innovation among businesses in Swindon and across the South West, with nearly half saying they pivoted their operations to survive.

According to a new Lloyds Bank survey, 46% of firms in the region they were forced to become more creative and innovative in finding new areas of growth. 

The same percentage said they had made changes since the start of the pandemic to shore up the business, such as making operational changes (22%) or expanding their online offering (20%).

While some of these changes were made at the height of the crisis while many businesses were in survival mode, 41% plan to keep them in the long term, while nearly a quarter (23%) say their have boosted revenues and profits.

Among the South West firms to pivot its business model during the pandemic to survive was bakery Cakesmiths.

Business had been booming for the multimillion-pound turnover company, which supplies speciality cakes, traybakes and flapjacks on a wholesale basis to leading high-street coffee shop chains as well as hundreds of independent retailers.

But demand dried up when its coffee shop customers were forced to close in the first lockdown.

With support from Lloyds Bank, Bristol-based Cakesmiths was able to start running an online delivery service for customers that had remained open. As a result, it was able to retain its 50-strong workforce through the disruption.

Cakesmiths director Mike Thorne said: “With the majority of coffee shops across the UK closed, we knew it would be a while before we were back operating as usual. 

“Lloyds Bank’s support was key in helping us navigate the disruption to our supply chain, and retaining our brilliant team, meaning we could get back up and running as soon as demand returned.”

Lloyds Bank regional director David Beaumont, pictured, said South West businesses had shown real tenacity and resilience in facing the challenges of the past 18 months.

“What these findings show is that, in responding to restrictions on trading and pivoting operations, many have found ways to grow revenue and set themselves up for a more profitable future,” he added.

“We’ll continue to be by the side of the region’s firms to make sure they have access to the advice and support they need to recover and ultimately thrive in the months and years ahead.”

The extant that businesses were forced to change during the pandemic is revealed in the latest monthly Lloyds Bank Business Barometer, which provides early signals about UK economic trends. Some 100 South West businesses took part between between July 1 and 15.

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