Everything you need to know
That’s the day that all non-essential retail in the UK can officially reopen their doors and welcome customers back into or onto their premises.
Hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms, public buildings, theme parks, zoos and all other non-essential retail businesses can open with some shops being temporarily allowed to stay open until 10pm, six days a week to cope with an initially expected surge in demand.
Pubs, restaurants and cafes can all begin outdoor service if they have the capacity with no curfew or substantial meal requirements attached. If Covid-19 cases continue to fall then they will be allowed to serve customers indoors from May 17th.
Self-catering holiday lets and campsites can reopen although hotels and bed & breakfasts will also have to wait until May 17th.
All of this sounds positive and encouraging but for businesses that have been unable to trade in the previous 12 months and have taken out bounce back loans (BBLs) or used the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to keep afloat – it’s critical.
They might have accumulated rent arrears and VAT liabilities too as well as having to furlough staff who may or may not be brought back when the time comes to turn the tills on again.
Add in the regular bills and outgoings every business has to pay and April 12th suddenly looks like an all-or-nothing opportunity to begin to recover.
Take the initiative
Depending on their circumstances, there might be some quick tactical decisions a business can take to maximise their chances of being able to stay trading during these crucial early days and weeks of reopening.
Speak to your landlord
A lot of big brand stores took a high-stakes approach to their rent negotiations during the pandemic by withholding payment to force better rent terms.
We don’t condone this approach but every landlord understands that the retail environment of April 2021 is not the same as April 2020 – and probably won’t be again.
You should have a conversation with your landlord or their representatives at your earliest opportunity to see if there is any rent leeway that could be offered in the short term to give you the best chance of succeeding and remaining a valuable tenant.
Ultimately, you might want to explore other rent options including turnover based rental or other concessions but you won’t know either way until you ask.
Contact your suppliers
If the past year has proven anything it’s that no business is an island. We’re all connected through the ecosystem of the economy and strong partnerships that benefit both parties are worth their weight in gold.
Get in touch with your supplier and see if they’d be happy to help you out in terms of payment, delivery, stock or other ways to help make the initial frenzy pass as smoothly as possible.
Similarly, if you’re lucky enough to be in a strong position then it could be strategically beneficial to see if you could help them in turns of additional orders, paying earlier or in advance.
Anything that could build your relationship now, when you or they need help the most will be nothing but positive for your professional relationships and reputation.
Getting in on the ground floor of a successful enterprise is the dream of any investor and right now, it’s the perfect opportunity to look for additional backing for an otherwise viable business.
If you’re looking for an injection of capital to give your business an early reopening boost and don’t want to borrow from traditional lending sources then looking for investors might be a tenable alternative strategy.
MOT your business
If you were about to set out on a long journey in your car but hadn’t used it for months then it would be sensible to get it checked over by a professional to make sure that everything was working well and it could do the job.
It’s the same with your business but rather than hiring a mechanic, you can get in touch with us to arrange a business viability review with one of our expert advisors.
They’ll analyse your strengths and weaknesses and tell you how you can be best placed to take advantage of them in the short to medium term.
We can take into account the lack of activity in the last 2 months and the new opportunities that will be available to your business from April 12th and the weeks and months beyond.
After a period of enforced inactivity, a business viability review makes more sense than at any other time and it will give you time to fix any threatening anomalies it identifies before they can become critical.
New services and service
One thing that won’t change once retail reopens is that the increase in home shopping is here to stay.
Millions of customers have got used to the convenience of shopping online and having deliveries brought to their door whether it’s takeaway food, furniture, clothes or even cars.
Unlike most behaviour shifts, it’s happening in real time and we can not only observe it but pivot towards it to take full advantage.
Many businesses adopted new online strategies and services such as responsive websites, delivery services, real-time online customer service support and much more.
This is the ideal time to straddle the online and offline worlds and adapt your business virtually and literally to the demands of the customers no matter how they want to visit you.
Buy some time
All this talk of reopening might be exciting for some businesses that have been waiting impatiently for the chance to start trading again but not for everyone.
Many companies have barely kept afloat in the past year. The furlough scheme and other support measures such as the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) have been useful but without a strong and guaranteed income stream coming to offset the growing debts, it could be the cruelest conundrum for a business – being so close to seeing a path back to profitability but unable to last for the next few weeks and months until trade picks up.
This is where some other changes to the rules around insolvency can benefit businesses that find themselves on the brink.
An insolvency moratorium can be applied for which will give them a two week halt to any creditors actions while they work with an insolvency practitioner to plan their next steps in their survival strategy.
They could consider a Company Voluntary Arrangement or CVA which will help reduce their debts and make repaying them over a longer period manageable or they could look at an administration procedure where part or all of the business could be sold to new management which would have the additional energy and ideas to take the business forward but without the millstone of accumulated debt holding it back.
After a barely imaginable year, the moment that many companies have been counting down the days until is nearly here.
Some will be able to ride the wave of excitement and demand perfectly and will use the rush of income and custom to give themselves a springboard to a successful post-pandemic 2021.
For thousands of other businesses however, it won’t be as easy as that.
If you’re worried about how you can best navigate your company through the next few weeks and months then the most effective thing you could do is to get in touch with us.
We’ll arrange a free initial consultation where we can better understand your concerns and worries and help you come up with an efficient and effective plan of action to tackle them.
The great restart is a much anticipated opportunity – so make the most of yours today.