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From lockdown to turnaround

30 June 2020

Woman opening shop

A Professor of Entrepreneurship and Economics from Cardiff University and a Development Manager from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have discussed the steps required to rebuild small business success in Wales after the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the latest session in Cardiff Business School’s Breakfast Briefing Series, Professor Andrew Henley presented an overview of the latest available evidence on the impact of the crisis on small businesses and on the self-employed in Wales and the wider UK.

Drawing on research insights on self-employment and small businesses, Professor Henley assessed the multitude of challenges including significant loss of turnover and demand, employee wellbeing, socially distanced workspaces among others for employers.

He also took the opportunity to paint a slightly more optimistic for businesses charactersied by survival and resilience-building by surveying some of the emergency business support schemes that are available to offset and overcome the fallout from coronavirus lockdown measures.

Before handing over to Rob Basini, from the FSB, Professor Henley highlighted some ways in which SMEs might re-emerge stronger than ever. He urged organisations to:

  • Invest in innovation and business model re-design
  • Retain and retrain your people including managers and leaders and invest in their wellbeing
  • Maintain financial support while interest rates are low
  • Ensure supply chain resilience and market demand with the aid of anchor companies.

He concluded by saying: “It’s important to say that we do need a supportive macroeconomic and public spending environment for all of this...”

“We must not return to the kind of austerity measures that we saw after the last financial crisis, because over the medium term, that’s to say two or three years out, it will be extremely bad. Particularly if we find ourselves with a government that’s unwilling to continue to finance this through expansionary fiscal policy and instead increases taxes or comes down further on public spending.”

Professor Andrew Henley Professor of Entrepreneurship and Economics, Director of Research Engagement and Impact

Mr Basini picked up where Professor Henley finished by providing an overview of work recently published by the FSB.

He outlined some of the motivations behind their Reopening Wales report, which highlights key areas and issues that need to be addressed for small businesses to reopen effectively and play their part in recovery.

“We think there should be a social distancing grant or fund to help some businesses who need to make adaptations. Some businesses, their physical layout works quite well for social distancing. For others, social distancing can be really problematic.”

Rob Basini Development Manager, Federation of Small Businesses

The report also calls for:

  • Further sector-specific support, particularly for retail, hospitality, leisure, and tourism.
  • Refocus funding allocated for town centres.
  • Cybersecurity provision for organisations beginning to operate online.
  • Clear guidance on human resources, leadership and management to include employment practice, re-induction, and health, safety and wellbeing.
  • Addressing late payments.
  • Clarity on the shared prosperity fund.

In closing, Mr Basini also signposted the FSB’s Open for Business: Repurposing Public Spaces for Economic Recovery reportto those in attendance. Released earlier this month, it considers giving local communities ownership and control over the recovery and supporting their local SMES, as well as the governance and regulatory aspects that need to be addressed in order to achieve this vision.

Following their presentations, Professor Henley and Mr Basini fielded questions on supply chain resilience, convergence and divergence, training, regionality, health and the economy before bringing the briefing to a close.

Cardiff Business School's Breakfast Briefing Series is a network of events which enables business contacts to find out more about the latest research and key developments from industrial partners.

Following lockdown measures, implemented by Welsh Government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the School’s Executive Education Team has moved the series online.

If you were unable to attend, watch this recording of the event.

The next briefing, ‘How do we procure wellbeing?’, will see Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, join Professor Kevin Morgan and Dr Jane Lynch, to discuss the Commissioner’s recommendations from the Future Generations 2020 Report.

Register your attendance for “How do we procure wellbeing?” to hear about key findings from the report and ask the speakers questions.

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