To help the UK manufacturing industry rebuild in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, Paul McFadyen, managing director of metals4U, outlines the key lessons from the crisis.
The outbreak and lockdown has created an unprecedented challenge for the industry. However, despite the inevitable challenges and slowdown to come, the industry can recover by using this time to adapt and strengthen for the future.
Focus on the domestic market
Due to the pandemic, the UK and many other countries around the world look set to be heading into a recession. Because of this, it’s a good idea for metals manufacturers to focus on rebuilding their domestic market before looking further afield.
This means that businesses can strengthen ties with their domestic customers, as well as helping to strengthen the UK economy as a whole. A strong economy keeps businesses and employees in work and helps to future-proof against any further disruption.
This is particularly salient due to the still-unresolved nature of Brexit and the possibility of further coronavirus outbreaks.
Strengthen your balance sheet
It’s inevitable that businesses will have been impacted financially, so the best thing they can do now is to strengthen their balance sheet and ensure they are financially sound and capable of riding out any future losses of income.
Obviously this is easier said than done, but by keeping dividends within the company instead of hastily paying to shareholders, being cautious with growth and expansion and building in emergency cost-cutting space, businesses can ensure that they are prepared for future epidemics, pandemics, or force majeure.
Adapt to the new regulations
As it rebuilds from the lockdown, one of the biggest challenges the industry faces is adapting to the new regulations and restrictions which have been implemented by the government.
These include social distancing measures, as well as remote working for those able to do their job at home.
However, whilst adapting to the ‘new normal’ will create initial hurdles which may take time to overcome, businesses should look to implement these measures and incorporate them into protocol going forward.
Reflect on lessons learned
One of the main reasons why Covid-19 has had such a huge impact is that most businesses, and indeed most governments, were completely unprepared for such a situation.
The scale and nature of the crisis were unprecedented, but learning from the experiences faced so far in 2020 can fortify the industry and prepare it for any similar situations in the future.
In addition to implementing social distancing procedures in the workplace, think about whether meetings can be done virtually instead of in person, saving on travel expenses or can you implement flexible working arrangements to allow employees to work from home? Review any changes you’ve made during the lockdown and look at any that can become mainstays in your business to improve efficiencies.
Without a doubt, the coronavirus pandemic has created a generational challenge for which the manufacturing industry, as well as others, was wholly unprepared for.
But despite the inevitable impact on the industry, which will be felt for a while, there is the potential for growth, and more importantly, the development of procedures that will enable the sector to strengthen for the future.
metals4U, founded in 2002, is a UK online supplier of metals, plastics, tube clamps and engineering consumables.
The company is now an industry leader in the supply of superior quality grades of steel, copper, bronze, and brass, power and hand tools, PPE, workwear, and engineering products to retail, wholesale, hobbyists, artists, DIY, construction, and industrial sectors.
Source: PES Media