Start-ups with a savvy approach to their supply chains will be crucial to the post-pandemic economic recovery in Wales, say Newport-based entrepreneurs.
Elliot Jones is part of a growing tide of entrepreneurs who have gone into business during the pandemic, prompted by the unique needs that have emerged during lockdown. In fact, across the UK there has been an 83 percent year on year growth in e-commerce as of mid April, according to marketing software group, Emarsys.
Jones is a co-director, with his wife Sian Vaughan-Jones, of Urban Trading, an online furniture retailer that has quadrupled its Newport business premises in a matter of three months, in order to meet the boom in demand for office furniture for home-workers.
“My wife and I have long been aware of a gap in the market for affordable, contemporary furniture. The circumstances of the pandemic prompted is to press ahead with our business, which we started from home and swiftly moved to Storage Giant in Newport, where we have since expanded our footprint threefold in as many months.
“We are seeing so many businesses emerging from lockdown, with people being furloughed and having the time to set up home-based cottage industries, or to branch out and to set up in facilities like Storage Giant, where you have the flexibility to expand or to downsize according to the changing needs of the business. Of course, setting up a business of any kind is not without its worries and challenges, but it has been the right choice for us. And the economy will need other business-minded people to make bold choices if it is to thrive.”
Simon Williams, MD of Storage Giant, said:
“Clearly the pandemic has had negative impacts, but we have also seen, and we continue to see, scores of new businesses thrive and grow. We have never seen so many SMEs take up office space or warehousing space with us, and entrepreneurs like Elliot and Sian will always find opportunities in the market.
“Just last week a report from commercial real estate firm, Cushman and Wakefield, showed a continued and significant rise in e-commerce, which was further accelerated during lockdown, which has underpinned a record second quarter for the logistics and industrial sector in the UK. Overall take-up for the year is expected to surpass the 10-year average of 33 million sq. ft. We are operating in a shifting business landscape, but it is one we should feel positive about.”
Elliot adds: “We are very aware that people’s lives have changed and their habits have changed in recent months. We are seeing many big-name retailers respond to this by reconsidering their business model and, in some cases, moving away from large brick and mortar sites and towards seamless e-commerce. This is a need we all need to be prepared to cater for. We have also seen, as the pandemic has unfolded, real disruption to supply chains. Firms like ours, that are starting from the ground up during this time, are able to take this risk into account when we design our business model. It is important not to be reliant upon a small group of suppliers, and we believe the ability to diversify is essential to future success.