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Gloucestershire Business News

Randall & Payne: Businesses can thrive post-Covid

Businesses need to adapt and innovate to survive - that is the message from a webinar from Cheltenham accountancy firm Randall & Payne which talked about the many opportunities in the food and drink sector to recover.

Will Abbott, head of Randall & Payne's business advisory team, introduced Paul Drabble, who has had a long career in delivering growth plans for some of the world's biggest brands. 

He runs Creating Business Growth, specialising in delivering high-growth business plans, and he is working with The Growth Hub in Gloucester to deliver a new business model for Gloucestershire's food and drink industry.

Mr Drabble said Covid-19 and lockdown had caused a significant change in consumer behaviour.

He said: "Every aspect of consumer life has changed. Shopping and consumption have changed significantly, with decades of growth happening in months. Digital transformation has opened up a lot of opportunities."

Key changes included a growth in shopping local - with Co-op sales up 13 per cent. Home delivery meal box services like Hello Fresh and Gousto saw big growth and supermarkets saw double digital growth in sales.

Businesses looking to expand and change need to find the right channels to operate in.

Mr Drabble said: "When looking at channels, you have to prioritise. You can't be all things to all people. Consider whether you can make it profitable and whether there is already a lot of competition. How do you reach that market? Can you partner with a home delivery company to take your product to market?"

He talked about the importance of brands and said that, while trusted brands were reinvigorated by Covid, there was also a move by customers towards new brands.

"44 per cent of purchases are new brands, so for business there is an opportunity."

The biggest challenges for a company which comes up with an innovative product are competition and scaling up. Access to finance can be a problem when scaling up, particularly when selling in supermarkets which have 90 day payments terms. Good ideas will get copied and supermarkets are quick to turn round their own brand versions of popular new products.

"You always need to be looking for that point of differentiation, because if you don't it all comes back to price."

Companies which can embrace the digital transformation will have a real head start over the competition. But home delivery is only one half of the digital experience. Paul emphasised the importance of getting the other side right too.

"Digital is the cornerstone of business moving forward. The back end - fulfilment, logistics, supply change - are all important in terms of loyalty and support for digital channels."

Mr Drabble said business leaders need to adapt, but they don't have to do that alone. As well as learning internally with online training, they can also recruit new talent and collaborate and learn from other businesses and share complementary skills.

"The biggest risk is doing nothing. Don't wait. Tomorrow will not be better. A lot of people say it will be, but it won't."

Randall & Payne offered all webinar attendees a 30 minute one-on-one consultation. There is a fully-funded LEP grant of up to £3,000 from GFirst LEP for post-Covid support to help businesses change and move forward.

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