“Finish what you’re doing and go home,” David Mac was told. “We’re done here.”
He wasn’t the only one to hear that.
Over spring and summer in 2020, thousands of people were getting the same instructions.
The pandemic had done quick and serious damage since its arrival in Britain in March; halting work, shrinking the economy, and leaving millions furloughed or unemployed.
One of the other (many) people left without work was David’s close friend – and best man at his wedding – Aidan.
The pair had originally met during their time in the army, remaining pals long after they’d left the forces to set up their own respective businesses (David in camera installation, Aidan in the security industry).
Coronavirus had taken out both their companies in one fell swoop.
“Everything fizzled out overnight,” Aidan tells us.
“In my line of work, we rely heavily on events that just weren’t happening any more. It really hit us hard.”
Fortunately, army experience gives you the kind of discipline and perspective required to stay cool in a crisis.
Dave and Aidan understood the bigger picture – and they even had an idea of how they might be able to help.
The duo had dedicated years to protecting Britain on the ground. Now, they wanted to guard people from the invisible threat of COVID-19.
Both Dave and Aidan had purchased PPE in large quantities during the early part of the pandemic – just like many companies across the UK.
During that time, they’d learned a few things.
First, they’d spotted that most PPE was being manufactured in Asia rather than here in Britain – so there was a gap in the market. But most importantly of all, they realised that the industry was surprisingly unscrupulous.
Despite PPE’s new status as a health essential (in some instances required by law) the markup some companies were placing on products was astonishing.
People were being ripped off left, right and centre, and Dave and Aidan wanted to do something to stop it.
“Honestly, there are so many horror stories about people paying hundreds of pounds for bottles of hand sanitiser,” David says, with more than a touch of frustration in his tone.
“People everywhere have been getting let down or overcharged or both.
“It’s not on, to be honest.”
It was clear to David and Aidan that they could provide PPE more effectively – and ethically – than some of the existing suppliers already out there.
As a result, Nightingale PPE was born – a brand that has since supplied all the equipment required during the pandemic (including masks, hand sanitisers, visors, gloves, aprons, and antibacterial wipes) for affordable prices.
Nightingale currently operates out of two locations; one down south and another just around the corner in Manchester.
Clients range from Premiership football clubs, to schools, to local residents – with the duo having also struck partnerships with organisations in the local community (even becoming a sponsor for Romsey Football Club).
“For us it’s about building relationships,” says David, explaining the Nightingale philosophy.
“Whether it’s a big organisation or an individual – everyone gets the same treatment.
“We make a bit of profit, but what we’re most concerned about is making sure people get a fair deal.”
Nightingale is no flickering candle, either.
As Aidan says, it was never their intention to make a million pound overnight.
“We’re not here to make a quick buck,” he explains.
“We’ve got a national reach now but we want to keep that personal touch.
“Our focus for the future is bringing even more local people into the mix and buying British.”
Nightingale is here for the long haul – doubling its headcount over the past few weeks (with aims to bring in several more members of staff moving ahead).
“We’re trying to build this new business – and we reckon it’s got legs – that is known for what it is: A reliable, trusted place to go for PPE,” Dave tells us.
“There’s four of us here right now, but we’ve got plans to keep growing throughout next year.
“The intention is to create some local jobs and become the go-to place for PPE in the UK.”
They may no longer be in the forces together, but Dave and Aidan’s instinct for protecting people remains very much intact.
Learn more about Nightingale PPE and see what products they have for sale by visiting their website.
The company is also hosting a competition on Facebook for a family in need to win £1,000. Click here to learn more.
Toys R Us is back in the UK four years after going bust
Christmas has come early for kids and parents across the nation – Toys R Us is officially back up and running in the UK.
The retailer collapsed back in 2018 and closed its 100 stores, leaving gaping holes in retail parks up and down the country.
But now the beloved toy shop chain has made a return – sort of.
The Toys R Us website has relaunched today, with more than 14,000 toys and games up for sale.
Shoppers will find world-famous brands like Lego, Marvel, Crayola and Play-Doh back on sale.
The new website features a return from the retailer’s legendary mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe, who was photographed standing in one of the empty shops with a suitcase back in 2018, breaking everyone’s hearts.
A message says: “The world’s greatest toy shop is back! We can’t wait to develop and grow with you and your loved ones, over the coming weeks, months and years!”
There don’t appear to be any plans at present to bring back bricks-and-mortar toy shops.
The retailer closed due to a change in consumer habits and, like many traditional physical stores, a struggle to keep up with the rise of online shopping.
It teased that it would be making a comeback back in January.
At the time, Louis Mittoni, head of Toys R US ANZ, said: “Tailoring our successful Australian relaunch plan to the UK echoes the success of other e-commerce ‘platform play’ businesses that have delivered growth and value due to their ability to quickly and cost effectively expand their software, processes, partner relationships and brands into new countries.
“Since Toys R Us’ return to Australia in June 2019, we have scaled quickly as customers returned to the much-loved brand and our e-commerce model has proven its success.
“My team and I are looking forward to developing technical and commercial relationships with UK-based vendors and partners and to engage with the many loyal Toys ‘R’ Us former customers and fans in the UK.”
Featured image: Flickr
Everything you need to know about Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget 2022
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, has delivered his 2022 mini-budget in an attempt to address concerns surrounding the ongoing cost of living crisis.
While significant tax cuts were already predicted ahead of the crucial economic update, many people across the country may have been surprised by the sheer extent of measures announced by the chancellor across the board.
Addressing the subjects on everyone’s mind early on, Kwarteng stated that the annual price of energy for UK households will now be limited to £2,500, resulting in savings of around £1,000 against the projected figures following the most recent energy cap.
He also confirmed that the £400 energy discount is still in place, with the most vulnerable homes receiving even more in government support. Some are less than convinced that any real ‘savings’ will be made.
Earlier this week, the government announced that they would be halving energy bills for businesses over the next six months. Today he confirmed that a relief scheme will be put in place, as well as an “energy market finance scheme” which will offer liquidity to traders.
Similar relief will be afforded to schools and charities.
Lending and inflation
The hope is that this overall energy plan will reduce inflation, which currently sits at 9.9% based on August’s figures, to 5% and see the trending rate of annual financial growth to 2.5%.
Not only does the government believes this will lower the wider cost of living pressures but also free up finances to help better fund public services.
The overall energy relief package is said to be costing approximately £60 billion, meaning a significant amount will have to be borrowed from the Bank of England.
Bankers’ bonuses cap and corporation tax hike scrapped
On the subject of banks, one of the most controversial parts of the Kwasi Kwarteng’s update was the announcement that the cap on bankers’ bonuses will be scrapped entirely, arguing that previous measures only led to higher wages and people paying tax in other countries outside of the UK.
Next year’s scheduled corporation tax increase from 19% to 25% is also going to be scrapped, the rationale being that “low tax encourages investment” both domestically and from overseas.
Once again, people are less than impressed that the nation’s highest-earners appear to be the ones benefiting the most from government policy.
Removing red tape
The chancellor also said that the government are committed to removing further enterprise barriers caused by EU regulation, hoping to streamline “planning restrictions” across childcare, immigration, agricultural productivity, and digital infrastructure.
He sighted energy, telecoms and travel as key problem areas hamstrung by red tape.
However, he conversely criticised the ongoing strike action across the country and said that they plan to imitate other countries by introducing legislation to ensure minimum level service resumes.
Elsewhere, businesses in nearly 40 different ‘designated zones’ have been promised tax cuts for the next 10 years and no stamp duty on new premises. Speaking of which, as of today, no payment will be required on the first £250,000 of a property’s value, with first-time buyers paying zero on the first £425,000.
In fact, it looks as though the overall tax system is set to be reviewed once again. Not only are previous corporation tax and stamp duty plans being scrapped but income tax, alcohol duty and more are all being reexamined as part of the not-so mini-budget.
Alcohol duty is set to be frozen in February, meaning that Brits can expect to save around 7p per pint, 38p per bottle of wine and £1.35 on spirits. VAT-free shopping is also due to be introduced for overseas visitors, with aim of increasing revenue from tourism.
Kwarteng also confirmed that the basic rate of income tax will be cut by 1p to 19p from April 2023, with the 45p tax rate for those earning over £150,000 will be abolished from the same time next year.
This is said to be the biggest series of tax cuts in 50 years.
Despite the ‘real’ living wage being increased by 10% in an attempt to try and curb rising costs in almost every other walk of life, it goes without saying that the UK faces an extremely difficult period ahead as energy costs continue to rise, post-Brexit prices keep rising and we approach the ever expensive winter months.
The shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told the Financial Times that regardless of the measures announced today, both the mini-budget and Liz Truss’ appointment as Prime Minister represents “another zigzag on a path of policy failure” rather than any real sign of change.