There is no doubt 2020 has been a challenging year for companies around the world, but businesses in Swindon are tackling the challenges head-on.
Companies in the borough have reportedly applied for 3 294 loans as of the end of October worth in the region of £92.5-million. The loans form part of the government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme, which was created to help small and medium-sized businesses with loans of between £2 000 and £50 000 depending on the size of the company.
The money for the loans is given out by commercial lenders but is guaranteed by the government meaning there is no interest or fees charged to the companies for the first 12 months, and they will not risk bankruptcy if they fail to pay the loan back.
“We targeted this support to help those who need it most, as quickly as possible, and we won’t apologise for this,” said a government spokesperson about the loans.
The strategy doesn’t exist in a vacuum either; it is just one of several initiatives aimed at getting business back on its feet as quickly as possible. In conjunction with the loans, the Department of International Trade announced British companies would be able to bid for public sector contracts around the world worth in the region of £1.3-trillion. The trade-off is overseas companies are also allowed to bid for UK government contracts, but the overall effect is a net-positive for British business.
This, in and of itself, is part of the greater move towards digitisation by British business. More and more people, companies, and government officials are working and conducting business over the internet from the safety and comfort of their homes. This shift has drastically reduced many geographical challenges in doing business and opened up the world as a potential market. As a result, UK retail sales rose for five straight months from February to September this year. This growth was driven mostly by DIY and household goods.
However, spending on entertainment and media has also seen a decent bump over that period. The sector is expected to grow by another £8-billion over the next four years. One of the growth areas is the iGaming sector, which includes companies like Evolution Gaming, which has posted year-on-year revenue growth of 48% in the third quarter and IGT, a London-based software provider that recently signed a deal with the NBA. They, among other companies from this sector, have seen consistent growth due to the diverse set of products and services such as the latest slots released throughout the year which can be seen on many resource sites.
It’s not always easy to look forward when times are tough but, as any astute businessman will know, difficult times also present new and unique opportunities for those willing to take a calculated risk.
There are two ways to respond to a challenge. One is to try to avoid a potentially frustrating and difficult situation altogether, and the other is to rise to it and meet it head-on. Overwhelmingly, businesses in Swindon appear to be choosing the latter path.
And they are receiving additional support in the form of a non-profit organisation in Swindon BID, which was created to protect the business interests of companies in the town centre.
“Our town centre businesses have worked tirelessly since the pandemic began to ensure the safety of their customers and evolve their business to match the needs of these extraordinary times,” said in Swindon BID manager Anita Bellinger.
“Now, they must use this remarkable resolve to hold on to those solid foundations that have been put in place. As we look ahead, we remain vigilant and will continue working on all our planned campaigns for 2021, so there is sustained hope and future growth for Swindon town centre going forward.”