Covid-19 prompted a wave of innovation as businesses pivoted their operations to survive, according to a Lloyds Bank survey.
Almost two thirds (63%) of London businesses said the pandemic forced them to be more creative and innovative in finding new areas of growth.
Seven in ten (69%) have made changes to their operations since the start of the pandemic, such as expanding their online offering (28%) and growing the number of products or services they offer (25%).
Crucially, a significant number of businesses are benefiting from the pivots, with seven in ten (69%) saying that they will keep their changes in the long term. And it is already paying dividends with a third (32%) of firms saying that their operational changes have boosted revenues and profits.
London-based food manufacturer Eko Foods changed its business model during the pandemic to survive. The business, which sells African cooking ingredients to retailers and consumers, bought the majority of its products from Nigeria. But when its supply chain was disrupted, the business looked to source stock closer to home, including ramping up production of its own.
Owner Christine, who founded the business in 2003 and now employs 10 permanent and a further 20 temporary staff, says it is benefiting from taking a new, exciting direction.
“The past 12 months have taught me never to miss the opportunity to take a fresh look at how you do things,” she says. “At first, the pandemic brought many challenges but, from finding ways to overcome them, we’re now operating on a larger scale and are in a position to keep expanding, and bringing a taste of Africa to more of the UK.
“The support we continue to receive from the team at Lloyds Bank, from their market insight to their lightning-fast response time, is fantastic.”
Mark Amis, Managing Director for SME and Mid Corporates at Lloyds Bank said, “London businesses have shown real resilience over the past 18 months. What’s interesting is that so many have made permanent changes to survive, with many growing revenues and profits from their pivots.
“But while this is great to see, we know that it’s not been easy for many. We’ll work by the side of businesses to ensure they can access the help and support they need to recover and ultimately to grow as we get back to more normal trading conditions.”
The UK and sector picture
Across the UK half of businesses (48%) said that the pandemic had forced them to be more innovative and 56% made changes to their operations as a result. The most common changes included selling more online (21%) and adapting shift patterns (20%).
Manufacturers were most likely to make changes to their operating patterns (28% vs 20% UK average) and to expand the products they offered (22% vs 17%). Retail was the top sector for expanding online offerings (25% vs 21% UK average), buoyed by the shift to online consumer spending.