May 19 coronavirus update for businesses

Lancashire Business View's daily coronavirus updates are brought to you with the support of Boost, Lancashire's growth hub, and its #AskForHelp service. You're not alone in this.

Hair salons hit hardest

John Kersey, owner of Kersey Hairdressing and former chair of Lancashire IoD, says that his industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Salons won't be able to open before July 4, and when they do it will be at reduced capacity.

He said: "We'll have been in lockdown and unable to trade for longer than virtually any other high street business, with at least three months of lost revenue. That's OK for us, because we have one of the largest salons in Lancashire with 35 chairs spread over two floors, but a lot of smaller operators just won't be able to manage. The inability to service enough appointments, on top of all that lost trade, is going to see many of them fold.

"Sadly, I think a lot of smaller salons and barber shops are going to disappear thanks to the adaptations they'll have to make and the additional cash flow pressures that Covid-19 has heaped on them, unless the government and local authorities come forward quickly with some more targeted support."

Construction sites need government assistance

Property and construction experts at MHA Moore and Smalley are calling for government support to keep the region’s construction sites open and safe. Measures may include longer site opening hours, free parking for construction workers, better security and tax breaks should all be considered to help the sector get through the pandemic.

Joe Sullivan said: “The prime minister’s plan gives the sector a nudge in the direction of resuming normal operations but lacked clarity. Construction is unlike many other sectors in that contracts will take time to return, the supply chain will have its own issues and there will be a lack of foreign labour to fulfil work, so fundamental changes are needed.

"To make sites safer one of the government’s priorities could be to facilitate the move to biometrics for staff sign in, as used in airports, to provide robust worker recognition and cut the risk of contagion. Temperature monitors should be installed on large sites as an early warning system if a worker is unwell. Allowing sites to open from 6am to 7pm while light is good, instead of the current 8am to 6pm, would facilitate staggered shifts and cut down congestion on public transport. Free parking would also be a huge help.

 “Firms face a dual challenge of tackling onsite safety, while managing cashflow. Margins are typically thin in the sector and even with the Job Retention Scheme many firms are making losses. Tax breaks in the form of a zero percent VAT rate for all forms of maintenance, repair and extension could help get smaller traders back on their feet.”

Bako launches online trading platform

Bakery products distributor BAKO North Western Group has launched a new website to help independent bakers grow their sales by selling online through COVID-19 and beyond.

www.bakers.market allows customers to find, order and securely pay for collection or delivery from their local bakery.

BAKO North Western Group CEO Mike Tully said: "When we first began exploring the idea for the site with a straw poll of our existing customers, we found that only a third offered an online store capability already. The rest asked potential customers to either contact them using a phone number, email address or web-based order form and usually were not able to securely take customer payments.

"We launched Bakers.Market to provide a modern and sophisticated buying experience for bakery customers across the UK, connecting them with their local bakers so that they can access the bakery products they love through a slick, online experience."

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS