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Newark Business Club members learn how to survive

Posted onPosted on 6th Oct

Business discussed how they and others have adapted to the coronavirus pandemic, its economic fallout, changes to consumers’ behaviour and how some companies are thriving at the October meeting of Newark Business Club.

The virtual meeting was hosted at the new venue, Collab, and opened by chairman, Kerri McGarrigle (pictured).

Price Whiting Hodgson Financial Planning sponsored the meeting and Andy Hodgson explained that his varied career, followed by his retirement, allowed him to take his life in a different direction.

He now helps clients to plan their retirement and strongly encouraged business club delegates to start engaging with their retirement planning too.

Andy urged people to think of three things:

1. What do you want from your retirement?
2. What do you have in terms of finances?
3. How long will those finances last?

For more information on retirement planning, contact or call 07920449534.

Following the first breakout session, a range of local professionals joined for a panel debate. They discussed how businesses have adapted over the past few months and how they’re preparing for the future.

Taking part were Denise Starkey, of Gracegentle; Jez Ashbury, of Shooting Star; and Matthew Ellis-Mather, of Ellis Mather Group.

Kerri asked the first question, “What have you learned from this period we’ve been living in, so far?”

Jez replied, saying it’s the early adapters who are thriving. He referenced Brown’s Pie Shop in Lincoln as an example. Before the pandemic, they were a well-known dine-in restaurant. Now, they offer online ordering, takeaways and local delivery. It’s because of their ability to adapt that they’re now seeing an increase in sales.

Denise shared how her business had to change. When coronavirus arrived, she faced the harsh reality, like many other retailers, that she was going to have to close her shop.

She had 10 weeks to turn her situation around. By creating a sophisticated ecommerce site, along with launching new products such as handwritten greetings cards, she’s been able to increase sales by 52%. Since launching her website in September, Denise has had over 2,500 customers.

Matthew talked about how his business has reconsidered its external communication with simple messaging. Internally, they’re supporting colleagues by holding regular briefings. They’re also sharing their plans on how they hope to emerge from this experience stronger than ever.

Kerri then asked, “have you learned any lessons since lockdown?”

Jez referenced Sports Direct and Waterstones. Initially, both businesses were resisting internal and external pressures to close their operations and stores. Their lack of empathy towards their customers and employees ultimately backfired so, the lesson learned is: Always put your people first.

To round off the session, Kerri asked, “how has being part of a community helped?”

The consensus was that the local business community has played a considerable part in helping business owners to manage their stress and wellbeing. People are communicating more and reassuring each other.

Denise said Newark independents are a “supportive bunch” and have been championing each other for a while now. They’ve created a community Facebook page – #ShopNewark.

Kerri thanked delegates for their patience getting to grips with the new networking platform.

If you’re looking to grow your network, then come along to the next virtual meeting, which takes place on Friday, 6th November. Register to become a member at There are over 100 businesses at monthly breakfast meetings.