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Future Forward: Locate in Kent launches new business recovery service

Locate in Kent has launched Future Forward, a new business recovery support service, designed to provide businesses across Kent and Medway with the help they need to plan for the future.

Small and medium sized businesses that form the bedrock of the country’s economy can finally look ahead with the lifting of lockdown restrictions, introduced as part of government measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Future Forward has been designed to guide SME businesses across Kent and Medway through the challenges they may now be facing. It will help organisations build the resilience they need to adjust to the new economic landscape and carve out new opportunities for success. That will include learning the lessons of lockdown – from the importance of investment in digital systems and technology to the practicalities of flexible working and enabling high performance teams.

All businesses that qualify for the service will receive 12 hours of free consultancy, delivered by a team of Locate in Kent’s business advisors and industry experts, including Kreston Reeves and Wilkins Kennedy, who have specialist sector knowledge and insight.

Businesses will have an initial one-hour consultation when they sign up to discuss their specific needs.  This information will help Locate in Kent to provide businesses with the right advice and level of support, bespoke to them. 

The team will then work alongside each company to review key aspects of their business operations – from market opportunities, skills and training to financial planning. They will also work with businesses to accelerate plans they may have to embrace technology and digitalisation. 

A report, produced for Locate in Kent, by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) in May, provides some insight into the impact of lockdown on the county’s economy. It estimated an overall loss in GVA of 37% for Kent and Medway, slightly higher than the South East forecast (35%). This fall in economic output was driven by the county’s relatively large construction and real estate sector along with wholesale and retail trade.  Companies across all sectors can benefit from the new service.

Gavin Cleary, CEO Locate in Kent, said: “As the Cebr report illustrates, it is vital now that businesses have access to the right advice and guidance as Kent and Medway’s economy begins to bounce back from lockdown. 

“Future Forward is part of a suite of support that Locate in Kent will be leading on over the coming months, as we help organisations to overcome any challenges they now face and ensure that the Kent and Medway business community comes back stronger. For many businesses that includes learning the lessons from lockdown, including the recognition that business resilience, skills development and digitisation can provide the building blocks for long term success. 

“To help deliver the Future Forward programme, we are thrilled to be working alongside Kreston Reeves and Wilkins Kennedy, as well as other specialist business advisors, who will help us to provide the vital support to many businesses across the county.” 

Tim Levey, Chairman and Head of Business Advisory at Kreston Reeves, said: “I think this is a great initiative and it comes at just the right time for those businesses needing guidance on the way ahead. We’re looking forward to supporting Locate in Kent and the businesses in the programme over the coming months.” 

Hayley Kingsnorth, Director of Accounts & Business Services at Wilkins Kennedy, commented: “We are delighted to be working with Locate in Kent to help local businesses get ready to start up again or revise their business model to enable them to thrive in the current conditions. 

“We have been assisting our clients through our Survive, Revive, Thrive initiative and look forward to sharing this within the wider business community in Kent.”

For more detail on the Future Forward service, including information on signing up, visit www.locateinkent.com/future-forward

Editor’s Notes:

About Future Forward

Future Forward is a new service from Locate in Kent launched to help businesses across Kent and Medway to plan for the future.

The programme has been designed to provide employers with the support they need to build productivity and resilience, including guidance on embracing technology and building skills in their organisation.

Businesses employing less than 250 people can access 12 hours of free consultancy delivered by Locate in Kent’s business advisor team. The consultation will explore four key themes:

  • Customers and markets
  • Operations and processes
  • Financial planning
  • People and performance

Support will begin with a one-hour call. This will help shape the advice and support needed to address any specific challenges businesses may be facing.

For more detail on the new service, including information on signing up, visit www.locateinkent.com/future-forward

About CEBR’s report - The economic impact of Covid-19 on Kent

This report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research was produced for Locate in Kent in May 2020. It estimated the economic impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on Kent and compared those forecasts with the rest of the UK and South East.

Overview of Impacts on the Kent economy

The estimated GVA impact for Kent (37% of output) is slightly larger than for the South East (35%) and the UK (34%). Relative to the wider region, Kent has:

  • larger shares of its economy in construction, wholesale and retail trade, sectors which have seen large reductions in output.
  • smaller shares of its economy in information and communication, financial and insurance activities, and professional, scientific and technical activities – these are all able to adapt to home working reasonably well and see smaller reductions in output.
  • a relatively large agriculture, forestry and fishing sector – this provides the Kent economy with a degree of resilience.

Other key findings:

  • The estimated economic impact was lower in areas that had a higher number of businesses that were ‘tech enabled’ with staff able to move seamlessly from the office to working from home.
  • The performance of life science businesses at Kent Science Park and Discovery Park, with a number of them involved in the search for vaccines and new treatments for COVID-19, has softened the predicted economic impact in those locations.
  • Accommodation and food services was predicted to be the worst hit of all Kent’s economic sectors, but as a relatively small part of the economy it did not make as big a contribution as other sectors to the fall in the county’s output during lockdown.

Locate in Kent graphic

Posted on 21/07/2020