Despite the difficulties that Manchester’s businesses have faced over the course of the last year, there has been a little bit of a sense of optimism building that the end of the coronavirus is near.
That may be overstating things a bit, and it is also of course important to note that the new mutation has intensified the spread of the virus for now. Currently, new shutdowns are in effect, and those local businesses that had managed to reopen have shuttered once again.
Nevertheless, the feeling is that as the UK continues to progress toward mass vaccination, life will return to normal and businesses will follow.
Even if this is a realistic hope though, the fact remains that it will be a challenge for local businesses to get back up to speed — particularly if they’re not part of larger chains with robust online businesses.
Because of this, we decided to look ahead at some of the challenges that may linger, not to be overly pessimistic but rather as a means of honestly assessing what’s ahead.
Lingering COVID Cases
The good news regarding the virus specifically is that the UK is among the world leaders when it comes to distributing the vaccine.
The bad news, however, is that the UK is also near the top of the list in new cases. According to a recent update from The Guardian, the nation trails only the U.S. in recent cases diagnosed, indicating that spread is still rampant — and outpacing vaccinations.
It is hoped, of course, that this is more of a short-term problem than a long-term challenge for businesses. But right now the raw numbers indicate that the UK will be dealing with lingering cases and outbreaks for some time yet. Even if local businesses in Manchester and other cities are able to open, they’ll need to undertake precautions and prepare for potential mini-shutdowns in the future.
Online Shopping Habits
Another cold, hard fact for high-street retailers in places like Manchester is that consumers have had time over the course of the pandemic to get even more used to online shopping than they already were. Though there have been some occasional issues with supply chains, product availability, and shipping times, store delivery has held up fairly well overall.
Amazon has thrived throughout much of the world by maintaining its typical high-speed online shopping capability during the pandemic. And in the UK specifically, Groupon recently highlighted Very for its “range of delivery options,” “speedy and easy to track” orders, and affordable shipping.
Stores like these have efficiently provided consumers with everything they need, and local businesses will need to actively persuade some of those consumers to return.
Part of persuading consumers to return to brick-and-mortar businesses will mean establishing a trust factor regarding safety and cleanliness.
The BBC asked last summer if the high streets would get their shoppers back, and noted the “conspicuousness of precautions” as a design of retailers — a means of making shoppers feel safe and protected. Now another half year into the pandemic, this appears to be even more important.
Local businesses both in Manchester and elsewhere will likely have to go to extensive lengths to reassure customers and establish suitable but appealing post-COVID spaces.
Endurance of Adaptations
The last point, and maybe the most interesting, is that local businesses will also need to find ways to sustain positive adaptations that they’ve made during COVID once the virus is under control.
That’s a good thing — but it won’t work the same way after COVID.
The same businesses will have to continue engaging through social media, but shift their messaging and outreach efforts to reflect a more normal society, and ultimately to drive consumers to locations.
This is an opportunity, but one more challenge as well.
‘Provocative’ life insurance firm hit with advertising restrictions after using Harold Shipman picture
A life insurance company that controversially used a picture of Harold Shipman in a recent advertisement is to have all of its future marketing campaigns restricted.
Leicester-based firm DeadHappy – which is known for its strapline ‘life insurance to die for’, and has a reputation for shocking adverts – grabbed headlines last week after it used a picture of the infamous Manchester serial killer alongside the text “Life insurance: Because you never know who your doctor might be.”
The use of Shipman’s picture understandably received a barrage of backlash online, and was consistently branded “tasteless” and “disgusting” by critics.
The advert was even condemned by the families of some of Shipman’s victims.
A “popular” and “well-liked” local doctor, Shipman had been practising in Hyde for over 20 years, but went on to become Britain’s most prolific serial killer after doubts were raised over the validity of the will left by one of his patients following her death in 1998.
Shipman was eventually found guilty of killing 15 of his patients back in 2000, with his total number of victims said to be around 250.
After the advert continued to draw backlash, and a number of formal complaints were made by industry professionals, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – which is responsible for regulating the financial services industry – has now ruled that all of DeadHappy’s future adverts and marketing campaigns must be cleared by its risk carrier before being allowed to run, according to BBC News.
The FCA now states that the company “must cease to communicate any further financial promotions that have not received prior approval”, which means future adverts will need to be cleared by DeadHappy’s insurance provider, Shepherds Friendly.
On top of being hit with these restrictions, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has also said it is currently in the process of reviewing more than 50 complaints about the Harold Shipman advert.
DeadHappy has now apologised for the advert.
Addressing the FCA’s ruling, Andy Knott – founder of DeadHappy – said: “In our attempt to be provocative and make people really stop and think about their need for life insurance, we have made a mistake and for this we apologise.
“We will now go away and immediately review all of our current and future marketing campaigns to ensure we learn from this mistake.”
Shepherds Friendly says it is “committed” to its values and the advert “does not align” with them.
“Following the FCA’s restriction on DeadHappy’s activities, we are ensuring those requirements are complied with,” a Shepherds Friendly spokesperson concluded.
Featured Image – BBC
New images give sneak peak at £210m redevelopment plans for ‘eyesore’ Manchester hotel
New images giving a sneak peak at impressive £210 million plans to redevelop a Manchester city centre hotel once branded an “eyesore” have been released.
The former Renaissance Hotel is undoubtedly one of the most divisive buildings on Deansgate, was notably once labelled an “eyesore”, and had been facing demolition since 2018 – but plans were eventually unveiled to redevelop it into a part-office, part-hotel, and part-residential complex a few years back.
The brutalist structure is set for a whopping £210 million makeover, which is being overseen by Property Alliance Group and Starwood Capital.
Developers have now released a handful of new images showing what the new offices will look like.
According to redevelopment plans, the offices within the building will be spread over four floors and be around 36,000 sq ft in size.
With work expected to begin on the building by the end of next month, plans also show that there will be a communal roof terrace, a wellbeing studio, bike store, and showers with changing rooms, as well as flexible office space.
Speaking on the redevelopment plans, Alex Russell – CEO at Property Alliance Group – said the project is as “important” to the company as it is to the city of Manchester.
“It demands best-in-class for design and amenities to maximise its riverside location [and] we cannot wait to relaunch this vibrant and engaging destination for the city’s residents and visitors.”
Will Lewis, who is the founder of OBI, which is the company that’s been tasked with “bringing the commercial space to market” added that he wants to see both large and small companies rent office space within the building once redevelopment is complete.
“New build office development of this nature is unique, as it enables both large corporates seeking a self-contained HQ and SMEs to take space on a floor-by-floor basis,” he explained.