Tees Talk: Business leaders give views on crisis support

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

We asked local business leaders what has been the best or most important support their business has received during the coronavirus crisis? Here are their views…

Jamie Pennington, managing director, Viral Effect

“One of the most beneficial supports we have received has been the government’s Job Retention Scheme. Being able to furlough members of our fantastic team has given the company and their jobs security during this time of uncertainty, particularly in sectors of the business that simply cease to operate under social distancing.
“In addition, the VAT holiday is a welcome help to sustain cash flow, which will further safeguard the running of the business for the foreseeable future while also ensuring that we can still service the large proportion of our clients who continue to trade.”

Mark Smith, managing director, Stockton Machine Company

“Being a critical supplier to the food industry, amongst others, meant it was necessary for our business to remain open through these challenging times. Fortunately, I have a great team working for me. They are so reliable and I can always count on them to go above and beyond. They have certainly risen to this challenge. Without their dedication and commitment things may have been so much different.
“Regarding additional financial support, I have had a £10,000 grant via Stockton Council in lieu of my business rates, while my bank has been very accommodating too and offered to increase my overdraft until any application for the CIBL scheme had been approved.
“I also think the chancellor pulled it out of the bag with the furlough scheme. This was an incredible gesture and throughout all the early jitters about whether my business would survive I knew I always had the option of mothballing and having the wages covered. This really did take the uncertainty out of the equation and helped me sleep at night. As it turned out, I have furloughed a couple of staff, but mainly to help with social distancing rather than for economic relief.”

Chloë Clover, creative director, Wander Films

“This crisis has been unprecedented and devastating for so many people across the world. It’s hard to even contemplate what is happening on a personal level so adding trying to navigate a business through it too and, man, it’s been tough!
“But there is also something really beautiful happening to our communities. We’ve been lucky to have such incredible clients, friends and family around us that we now feel closer than ever to. We have had such amazing advice and support from so many people – advice on finances, HR, business in general and personal but the best was just ‘not to forget’.”

Nick Waites, principal, CP Waites

“The best support in my opinion is undoubtedly the furlough grants which, where necessary, have given businesses the option to streamline their services in the short term so that they can reduce their cost base.
“I have also been impressed with the support between professionals in the Tees Valley with the sharing of ideas and information to help each other and the businesses that they advise.”

Amanda Gardiner, managing director, Durham Lifting

“In order to best understand government guidelines and the safety of our staff, HR advice was the most important for Durham Lifting, especially when it came to the consideration of furloughing staff, and the rules to follow for self-isolation and to understand how we could continue to work safely.
“Moving on from now, it will be financial advice that will allow the company to continue to trade successfully, probably utilising every inch of our current cash-flow.”

Steve Duffield, site director, Wilton Centre

“The most important support for Wilton Centre has come from our partnering on-site service providers, such as the maintenance teams and those who carry out our cleaning and logistics. All have gone above and beyond normal expectations to ensure the Wilton Centre continues to remain open by coming up with innovative changes to their operations. This has allowed many of our occupying companies to continue their critical work, in areas such as the development of a vaccine for Covid-19, without interruption or inconvenience.
“All their employees who continue to go to work to support Wilton Centre’s operations, without exception, have shown an exemplary attitude throughout the current lockdown period and its challenges.”

Kenton Bazeley, partner, Archers Law

“What has stood out to me as providing the greatest support during the Covid-19 pandemic is the thing that always makes doing business in this region quite different from most other places. Teesside is a close-knit community and, in times of trouble, there are always people to call upon, willing to assist.
“With every business so dramatically affected by the pandemic, this has created a siege mentality, whereby we all need to work together to get through it. It would be remiss to mention just one or two people as it is the entire business community, colleagues, clients and staff who have been patient and helpful and amazingly supportive. I am hoping that this continues post-Covid-19.”


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