April 2020

… and people thought Brexit was bad enough!

ell, what a month it’s been! Never in our lifetime have we seen a crisis quite like this in the UK, especially with the speed at which things have escalated. Attending the kbb Birmingham show at the beginning of March seems like a lifetime ago; even the TRIC Awards on 10 March (which you can read about in this issue) seemed very well attended, but no one really knew the scale of this pandemic even then. Soon after we had that period when everyone went crazy in the supermarkets stocking up on hand wash and toilet rolls! The nation gathered to watch the Prime Minister’s address where he announced the ‘lockdown’ measures. He likened this fight against coronavirus to a wartime enterprise. The public were asked to stay at home and most


businesses were told to close down immediately. Before this, of course, we’d already heard how the Chancellor planned to protect companies and employees with his package of government- backed business loans and grants. It became evident that businesses would certainly struggle through the following months, although it’s clearly out of anyone’s control. And people thought Brexit was bad enough!

As I write my comment this month I am safely ensconced in my new office at home, just as everyone has had to adjust to a new, more unusual working routine. However, electrical retailers are in the same boat – their shop doors forced to be closed for an unknown amount of time. They’ve had a rough ride – it seems at first consumers went a

bit mad buying extra fridges, freezers and new TVs and then footfall stopped altogether, as Francesca Seden reports this month (page 5). But now retailers can only rely on their online counterpart to continue trading. Therefore, now could be the perfect time to ensure your website is in tip-top condition. And, if it’s any help during this tricky period, it just so happens we have a special website advice feature in this issue of ERT – take a look from page 30. Unfortunately at the moment no one knows what the future holds – only time will tell. For sure there will be some business casualties, but I’m remaining hopeful that our industry can bounce back and that retailers will soon have consumers back in store!

Until then, stay safe and take care. 13

Also this month, I interviewed Rob Wileman, MD of Swan Products. He told me all about the history of the brand – right back to its routes in Birmingham in the 1800s – and how he’s been involved over the years. He started in the mid-80s and now heads up the company and developed it into the brand we know today. “Eventually the Swan brand was handed back to the original Swan employees who are passionate about its heritage, putting the future back into our hands,” he told me.

It was great to hear how Rob and his team are really driving SDA – and now MDA – innovation forward and I learned all about Swan’s current product ranges and plans for the future. You can read more from page 18 this month.

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