The seventh in the series of PM+M’s ‘Navigating the Now and Next’ events took place on Thursday 27 May, aimed at helping businesses manage the ongoing challenges of the present and understand what support is available as we look to the future.
Our recent session, hosted by PM+M’s David Gorton and The Landmark, welcomed panellists Adam Bromley (Forbes Solicitors), Olivier Foucre (Crow Wood Hotel & Spa), Claire Rhodes (The Landmark) and Jon Connor (PM+M), to guide people-focused discussions around collaborative working and riding the wave of the pandemic with a positive outlook, as well as the importance of authenticity and resilience in business. Panellists also discussed various sector success stories over the past 12 months, despite the pandemic, with the property market and manufacturing in particular achieving excellent results.
Adam Bromley (Forbes Solicitors) opened the discussions by describing the boom which the property market is currently having, both commercially and residentially. Adam heads the property division at Forbes and described the day (23 March 2020) when the property market went into panic and his team was furloughed. However, Adam explained that it didn’t take long for the property market to bounce back, helped along by the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday, and it continues to be very buoyant. As many have been stating in recent months, the recovery of the economy will be underpinned through property, and the market continues to be extremely busy, from residential to commercial and even development, with house builders struggling to keep up with demand.
Adam also discussed the shift towards repurposing office buildings to residential properties, with a clear trend in businesses moving away from town centre retail premises. There is also an uptake in shared office space, with businesses adapting to the hybrid ‘working from home’ model and deciding they no longer need the vast office which they once had. This was reiterated by Claire Rhodes, who manages The Landmark in Burnley. The Landmark is a business club in the heart of Burnley offering a shared workspace, private office space and coworking memberships as well as event and conferencing facilities. Claire described how The Landmark had to constantly adapt their business model throughout the pandemic, as well as rebrand to ensure they met the changing needs of their potential clients – office workers who were following Government advice to ‘stay at home’. The Landmark launched their hybrid model during this time, whereby they provided a Covid-safe, but homely, workspace for those who needed it, and it was a great success. Claire puts this down to resilience, authenticity, and adaptation – constantly altering The Landmark’s offering to meet the needs of the clients and never giving up. They now have over 100 members and look to continue their growth plans following the increasing demand for hybrid working models and shared office space. Claire also predicts an increase in hybrid events post-pandemic, whereby face to face events are also streamed via Zoom, allowing businesses to reach a wider audience through digital means.
Olivier Foucre (Crow Wood Hotel & Spa) discussed the challenges experienced by the hospitality industry over the last 12 months, but also his optimism and excitement for the future. Since the Crow Wood Hotel & Spa opened its doors in October 2019, they have had a challenging time with numerous lockdowns and closures. However, Olivier now believes we are through the other side and is glad his clientele are finally able to enjoy themselves, with business currently booming at the hotel. Looking forwards, Olivier states that the Government announcement regarding the 21 June and the complete loosening of restrictions is crucial to the business, as they are banking on weddings being able to go ahead – a large income stream for the hotel.
Although business is thriving at the hotel since they have been able to reopen, one area in which Olivier has witnessed challenges is recruitment, with various management positions awaiting to be filled, even with the help of various recruitment agencies. Olivier discussed his collaboration with competitors in the Burnley area to discuss recruitment issues, as well as other areas, whereby they shared tips and ideas. He states this is a welcome change post-pandemic, where competitors are working together and aiming to solve problems collaboratively, whilst both benefiting from the solutions. This was echoed by all leaders at the event, with businesses keen to collaborate and build links in the community, assisting each other and offering referrals where possible.
PM+M’s R&D tax manager Jon Connor discussed the changing landscape of R&D and tax benefits over the past year. Eighteen months ago, 50% of Jon’s role was visiting clients, walking around shop floors and meeting people. Since the pandemic hit, he was forced to adapt to Zoom and Teams, and alter the PM+M R&D tax service offering to maximise clients’ claims without physically visiting them on site, which proved quite difficult.
On the whole, in the R&D world, Jon described the increase in companies looking at automation, AI and robotics to improve cost efficiencies whilst maintaining a personal touch, and it is predicted these types of investments will increase further as we move towards life post-pandemic, especially in industries such as manufacturing.
Jon also touched on collaborative working, which was a common theme throughout the event, whereby one of his main focuses in the past 12 months has been building connections with funding providers to ensure he is able to connect businesses with the right people at the right time, to assist them in achieving their goals.
All in all, as with our previous ‘Navigating the Now and Next’ events, the theme of remaining positive, the importance of adaptation and resilience, as well as collaboration shone through. It is great to see business leaders continuing to work together and building links in East Lancashire as well as further afield – helping each other achieve more as we navigate these unprecedented times together.
Should you wish to discuss your own situation, or seek advice for your business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing email@example.com.