Creative thinking from British SMEs in response to coronavirus
In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, and in the face of adversity and uncertainty, we are seeing some amazing creative thinking and some of the best of British business shine through. We are hearing of businesses coming together to support and help each other, and of terrific creativity and ingenuity as SMEs rapidly shift their business models to deliver innovative new products and services.
Whether it’s small businesses teaming up to deliver new services, companies using facilities to help local communities or large firms opening up expertise to help SMEs, through our engagement with the SME community we are hearing inspirational stories every day.
Be the Business wants to shine a spotlight on some of these businesses and over the coming weeks we will be featuring some of the best examples of business innovation and altruism on our website and on social media. We hope to both recognise the efforts these business leaders and hopefully inspire others.
If you know of a business displaying creative thinking that you think should be featured, please do get in contact to let us know though email@example.com.
Innovation and ingenuity
- MAMA.codes, a company that teaches children aged 3-11 the basics of coding, is now operating 100 per cent online
- Lancashire Textiles, a family-run textiles company, has switched from producing bed accessories to face masks and wipe clean pillows. It adapted in the same way during the Ebola outbreak in 2014
- The Codsall Hive arts and crafts café, a pottery and painting café based in south Staffordshire, has begun offering take-home pottery and foam clay decorating kits. People can pick the kits up from the shop, work on them at home, then take them back to be fired when they can, with staff still in the shop taking telephone inquiries, glazing and firing the creations
- Several businesses have begun to offer delivery or collection services. These include: The Tobacco Factory, a restaurant in Bristol that has launched a community kitchen drive-thru in its car park; Comyn Bruce, a luxury wedding and event caterer, has begun producing and delivering prepared meals for those who cannot cook during the lockdown; and the The Royal Oak, A pub based in Wiltshire, which has opened a farm shop on the property to sell food to the public including home-cooked meals
- Some businesses are cooperating to serve their customers. A group of businesses in Malton has joined forces to launch Malton Delivers, a delivery service which connects consumers to local providers of meat and fish, baked goods, fruit and veg and beer. The Little Gloster, a restaurant on the Isle of White, has introduced delivery and collection to the service as well as partnering with Wight and Essex Wines to provide customers with a glass of wine alongside their meal
- Other businesses have switched positions in the supply chain. Dunsters Farm is a family-run food supplier that is now offering a local call and collect service where consumers can order food and collect it from the wholesaler’s warehouse in Bury. Biff’s Kitchen, a plant-based fast food company, has redistributed stock that would usually go to food service into local independent supermarkets to help out supply chains under pressure and give people more plant-based options to cook at home. Finally, Smith & Brock, a local distributer of fresh fruit and vegetables to restaurants and cafes, very quickly changed to direct supply chain with delivery of their produce to consumers
Business helping business
- Meero, a file transfer service, is offering free large-file transfers to ease remote working. No account is needed and all files created between now and June 2020 will be kept active for three months
- Trickle, an employee engagement platform, is offering it for free until 3 May
- Services Marketplace Bark, from London, has launched a new website aimed at helping businesses that are having to transform into digital businesses in order to cope with the coronavirus
- Mix96, a Buckinghamshir-based radio station, is offering free promotion to any local businesses that have adapted the product offering in its Mix96 Open For Business Guide
- Wild West Communications, a PR and communications agency, is offering free consultancy clinics to support businesses during the crisis. For one hour each day, the team will be available for one-to-one video conference advice sessions. Businesses will be able to tap into expert know-how on everything from social media to press relations and internal communications
- Vividly Simple, an IT company, is offering free 45-minute consultations to help businesses work out the best IT option due to the current importance of businesses successfully operating online
Helping communities through the crisis
- A number of companies have turned to manufacturing hand sanitiser. Scottish gin distillery Verdant Spirits has switched to making hand sanitiser for local care groups. Leith Gin distillery has also made the switch to producing hand sanitiser for local NHS groups and hospices. Healeys Cider, a family-run business that is the longest standing Cornish cyder maker and the only distillers making cyder brandy and fruit spirits, has pivoted to using its distillery for the production of alcohol hand sanitiser, delivering 100 litres a week to the Royal Cornwall Hospital free of charge. The British Honey Company in Oxfordshire is using its spare capacity to produce hand sanitiser in its distillery
- NCP is allowing those who need to work during lockdown to park for free in most of its city-centre carparks