How long will it take for businesses to be viable again post-Covid-19? We partnered with Sapio Research to find out…

Posted on 7th July 2020 by Rebecca Brown

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Covid-19 has brought a multitude of challenges for companies and many have had to rethink their business strategies to adapt to the current climate. To accommodate the changes and maintain operations, a large number of employers have used the government furlough scheme to help them through these times of uncertainty. Skout recently partnered with Sapio Research to find out how businesses are coping during the pandemic and to gain more insight into their future outlook.

Key findings from the research

Using the Covid-19 UK Business Barometer, a survey created by Sapio Research to monitor the impacts of Covid-19 on UK businesses, we asked 500 business decision makers about their experiences around the ongoing pandemic and found:

Almost two thirds (64%) of businesses struggling as a result of Covid-19 don’t expect to be financially viable again until December or later.

Business turnover has dropped even further since the UK first went into lockdown, with almost two thirds (63%) of organisations experiencing a lower than expected turnover last month, by an average of 50%.

Just 21% of businesses that were experiencing or expecting a reduced turnover this year thought their organisation would be operating at pre-pandemic levels again by September this year, with the majority claiming they don’t expect this to be the case until 2021 or beyond.

Given these long-term viability issues, businesses want more government support. 45% of decision makers said they are already using financial support from the government, while a further 26% plan to. Without furlough, a third of respondents claimed they would have failed within a month of lockdown.

However, despite the extension of the furlough scheme to the end of October, research suggests the government needs to go further, with confidence in the government decreasing as lockdown goes on. When asked how confident they felt in the government for the future (in three months’ time) almost a quarter of respondents (24%) said ‘not at all confident’, compared to just 18% who answered this way in the first wave, which was carried out between 9th and 14th of April.

The research also indicated that businesses expect Brexit to hinder the recovery of the UK economy compared to other nations, with 63% claiming that it would have a negative impact. While half of those with international clients said they expect international markets to recover by March 2021, just 41% expect the same for the UK.

What do the experts say?

Based on our findings, we asked senior business professionals about the impacts they’ve experienced as a result of Covid-19. Here’s what they said:

Andy Hogg, director of Sevenoaks pub and restaurant, The Bricklayers Arms

“As the owner of a pub with 33 staff, there’s no way we would have been able to pay them without the furlough scheme, which was one of the key sources of stress for me at the beginning of lockdown.”

Vincent Efferoth, managing director at alcoholic tea producer, NOVELTEA

“As we focus primarily on the UK, German and Chinese markets, we moved into crisis mode on 1st of March. Now we’ve started to think about longer-term mitigations as well as embracing ‘the new normal’ and looking for growth opportunities.”

Adam Burtt-Jones, co-founder at workplace design consultancy, Burtt-Jones & Brewer

“We experienced a drop in workload by around 60-70% initially when we went into lockdown, but the furlough scheme gave us significantly greater financial security. Where clients paused projects, it enabled us to essentially pause our staff.

“Moving forward, we’re going to need to be more multi-skilled and versatile. However, we do realise that there’s opportunity as well as challenge. If we navigate this carefully and cleverly, we’ll be in a good place. I’d almost be disappointed if we went exactly back to the way we were before!”

Further waves of the Covid-19 UK Business Barometer Survey will be conducted and released throughout July and a full set of findings can be found here. Also, keep your eye out on our blog section for further analysis on the results.

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