When life gets really tough, it can be difficult to find the positives in a challenging situation, or plot our future course with a sense of optimism. The Covid-19 pandemic is testing us all to our limits, and the licensed trade has been particularly affected, with the CGA group estimating that as many as 30% of total sites could close.
However, there is always hope to be found, and here Sylvia Oates, director of Six Till Six, considers the benefits of a partnership approach to the ongoing health and future strength of our industry.
As the summer weather hits and the immediate threat of the global pandemic begins to lessen, the licensed trade can begin to count the cost of the upheaval of the last few months. Venues are reopening in a much altered leisure climate, with lost revenues and new operational requirements at the forefront of their minds, with the clouds of uncertainty and the threat of a resurgence looming large.
However, as is the case in all business sectors and in the wider human community, this year’s health crisis has taught us a great many things, and shone a light on a whole host of heroes that have stepped up to pull the nation through. For our industry it’s not difficult to identify those whose hard work, energy and continued support have helped to steady the ship while employees and owners alike were weathering the storm.
The concept of bringing people together is at the very foundation of our trade, and it has been partnership building and collective action from a wide range of organisations including the British Institute of Innkeepers, UK Hospitality, the BBPA, the Night Time Industries Association, the Institute of Licensing and other industry associations, that have proven so enormously valuable during this difficult time.
They are of course only the tip of the iceberg, and there are many more organisations, schemes and associations at work, on both a local and national level. In 2008 I headed up the first leisure Business Improvement District (BID) and have seen just how vital it is to forge links between businesses and police forces, local authorities and other various stakeholders. The work undertaken by schemes such as Pubwatch, Best Bar None and the Purple Flag initiative, are vital in maintaining and improving standards in the night-time economy, often largely behind the scenes.
Across the country they have had widespread success championing the sector, providing knowledge and resources, advice and support, making sure their voices are heard throughout the industry and by the appropriate government figures. Their achievements are clear to see, and with lowering crime figures and praise coming from the highest of levels, it’s no surprise that their experience, know-how and broad skill set are being increasingly called upon and valued.
Looking ahead along the long road to recovery, it’s clear that creative thinking and innovative solutions will be needed. With a new set of challenges and changing social economies to negotiate, working together and forging links between business-led organisations, statutory bodies and local authorities will be fundamental in inspiring confidence and easing pressures as much as possible for all involved.
It is this partnership approach, that is so key to positive outcomes in the coming months. A period of rebuilding awaits, with no guarantee of a Covid-free future on the horizon, and it is only with strong relationships, a focus on building networks, and combined effort and energy that will see us through.