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Business leaders' offer their experience on surviving and thriving in 2021

Businesses joining Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership’s (CLEP’s) latest ‘Fireside Chat’ were provided with first-hand experience on how to address the current economic challenges and move beyond survive to thrive in 2021.

Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, and Maria Whitehead MBE, Director of Hawkshead Relish, the Lake District-based producer of award-winning preserves, shared their personal experiences of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and the end of the EU Transition period.

The themes that cropped up as being really important over the past twelve months were:

  • Resilience and determination;
  • The need to develop and stick to a strategic business plan and;
  • Putting the needs – and safety – of the customer and staff at the heart of business activity.

Gill and Maria, an accredited Export Champion, were the main speakers at the second in this series of free virtual discussions featuring prominent Cumbrian business figures organised by CLEP and aimed at providing businesses with the opportunity to benefit from the experiences of business leaders.

The event was chaired by CLEP Chief Executive Jo Lappin, who also chairs Cumbria’s Business and Economic Recovery and Response Group (BERRG), part of Cumbria’s Local Resilience Forum. BERRG is responsible for identifying the issues affecting businesses and the economy, responding to these and developing and delivering Restart, Reboot, Rethink, Cumbria’s economic recovery strategy, which looks at moving forward from the pandemic.

Jo said: “It was great for businesses to hear from Gill and Maria and CLEP was very grateful to them both for giving everyone the benefit of their experiences during the pandemic.

“The past year was probably the most difficult year in living memory for the economy and businesses. It is already clear that the challenges are continuing into 2021 and CLEP is therefore encouraging businesses to get all of the advice and support that they can to help them not only survive but to start to thrive in 2021.

“Gill and Maria shared some really valuable insights, which were welcomed by the businesses that attended. The level of questions and comments from the businesses that joined us was a clear indication of how valuable that they had found the event.

“One key message was that both Gill and Maria were clear that the last year had demonstrated that whilst a longer term plan was needed, agility and flexibility was critical. Importantly, both recognised that they were now prepared for pretty much anything, given the challenges presented in 2020 and the way that they had successfully navigated these.

“In terms of the EU Transition, concerns were expressed about potential labour shortages in the future, particularly for the visitor economy. However, it was recognised that this might open up opportunities for young Cumbrians to build their career in the visitor economy.”

If you run a business, CLEP has expert business advisers who are available to work with you one-to-one to overcome your business challenges. The guidance and advice is available to access free of charge and is specifically targeted to the needs of your business - be that help applying for grants and loans, adapting to new customer behaviours and reconfiguring your routes to market, adjusting to new regulations and actions your business needs to take as a result of leaving the EU, complimentary financial accounting and/or legal advice from a local firm, marketing, sales and pricing product/services, information on how to trade internationally and expand, or skills and leadership development.

To discuss your needs, in confidence, with one of CLEP’s expert advisers, please email your enquiry to:

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