Here’s to 2021: A shot in the arm for business

Merry Christmas

This week we will be sending out our final e-newsletters before Christmas…

As usual it’s packed full of inspiring news on companies from across the region which are doing well and predictions on how the economy and the way we work could change.

We loved our story about the invention from an Oxford-registered company that enables people to train their facial muscles to give them a non-invasive facelift.

And the one about  a unique product developed by serial Gloucester entrepreneur Vivien Blick which reminds people to wash or sanitise their hands and is about to be launched across the world.

Or what about the Banbury-based company, DCS Group, which smashed through the £250 million sales barrier this month. Born in Stratford upon Avon, the company is now based in Banbury and is currently building yet another factory.

Just three of the great stories of the more than 60 or 70 stories we run every week on our website.

And there are a few predictions on what could happen in 2021.

Merry Christmas 2Certainly, as we head off to celebrate Christmas with our families in bubbles (personally I prefer drinking bubbles to being in them), or perhaps solo, or via the dreaded Zoom, there are still a lot of unknowns about what 2021 will bring.

Some think that the whole Brexit issue (as I write they are still talking….), could be the damp squib that the Y2K bug turned out to be (and if you’re too young to remember Y2K, don’t rub it in), or an utter disaster.

My view is that we and the EU will muddle through- somehow. It’s in all of our interests to do so. I think both sides’ negotiators will somehow find a way to kick the can down the road in the short term so that goods keep flowing both sides of the channel.

But if it all comes down to fish…. well, words fail me. According to the Office for National Statistics, The GDP for fishing in 2019 is £747 million, down seven per cent on a year earlier, and it makes up just 5.5 per cent of the total for agriculture, forestry and fishing.  In contrast, in 2018, the financial services sector contributed £132 billion to the UK economy.

But there are sectors I am truly fearful for. Car manufacturing for one. Since March I think I’ve only filled up my car with petrol four times. None of us are using our cars like we did before, and the ebbing of demand for new cars has meant that vehicle manufacturing has slumped further than at any time in its history.

The surge in demand for electric vehicles is a small solace, but their manufacture won’t be helped by the inevitable holdups at our ports (Brexit compromise or not), which will slow down the well-honed, slick supply chain which our automotive manufacturers rely on – in fact all our manufacturers rely on.

As we head towards Christmas, we would like to pay tribute to some of the sectors which have truly come up trumps since March.

To all those keyworkers who’ve turned up for work no matter what, in the NHS, care sectors, delivery drivers and more.

To our supermarkets who kept their shelves stocked, despite the prats who bulk bought loo rolls, pasta and flour in March.

To the local shops who rose magnificently to the challenge of meeting the needs of the thousands of people who are usually at work in our towns and cities, but now find themselves working from home. These local stores, many which have seen a gentle decline over the last decade, have suddenly become again an essential part of the local community. Many have seen the numbers of people using them quadruple. My local stores and post office have been stupendous, and I’ve met a lot of lovely people in the queue for fruit and veg at the local farm shop.

To the pubs, bars and entertainment venues forced to close, despite investing thousands of pounds in Covid-19 safety measures. It’s not your fault that despite your best efforts, many of those enjoying your venues behave like absolute pillocks once they’ve got a couple of bevvies inside them, and conveniently forget about social distancing.

To the manufacturing companies who came together early on in the pandemic to collaborate on making ventilators for the NHS, from the Formula 1 and aerospace engineers to manufacturing company Renishaw, all managed by engineers from Penlon, the world-class British medical device company based in Oxfordshire which pulled the epic product together.

And finally, to the thousands and thousands of unsung heroes who aren’t on the front line, saving lives, or delivering goods, or making ventilators, but are stoically balancing their laptops on their knees at home, trying to do a good job for their employers, customers and clients while some of them are simultaneously trying to entertain/educate their school-age children, or worrying about an aged relative. No-one will write about you or ask us to clap for you, but every single one of you is making the most valuable contribution to keeping the country going.

So here’s to 2021. To the vaccine, to meeting up again in real time, to hugs, to proper conversation without the nano-delay of Zoom/Skype or Teams, to ripping off the hated facemasks, to having a reason to put on lipstick again, to water-cooler moments of inspiration….

I will never, ever take any of those things for granted again.

At Business & Innovation Magazine, while we’ll be keeping our on-line daily news service going strong right up to Christmas Day and into 2021, we’re already planning for a return to our printed issues, with the first one to be published in March, in time to kick off the spring. And we can’t wait.

Until then its Merry Christmas from us all, and here’s to a happy, healthy and harmonious 2021. Let’s hope it gives us all the shot in the arm we need!

You can find our more about our 2021 issues here: