Peter Martin: Options in a crisis

There is a well-worn business saying that in times of crisis, there are only really three options: get big, get niche or get out. Latest opinion piece from Peter Martin.

There is a well-worn business saying that in times of crisis, there are only really three options: get big, get niche or get out.

Being a big beast with market position and clout brings advantages, and there is plenty of evidence that larger, mainly quoted companies in the leisure and hospitality sector will be best placed to ride out the storm, not least because they are more likely to get access to capital. As the latest CGA Business Confidence survey shows, they are the ones most likely to be planning to cut their operations to limit damage in the months ahead.

The next option is to get niche, or to put it another way ‘if you can’t beat them, do something different’. Troubled times usually throw up new ideas and products – and in recent years many of those have been tech-driven. Finding a service the public really wants, even if radically different from what they wanted three months ago, is not easy, but this is a market supposedly renowned for its creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. It might be something as simple as being the best pub in town, but a business that effectively embraces its audience and communicates that point of difference.

Getting out may seem the nuclear option, but for some, it might still be the best decision. Some will have no option. They will not be able to survive, with the decision taken out of their hands.  Others may take the view that it’s not worth carrying on in this environment – it’s just not what they want to do any more. A few, however, may see it as an opportunity for a tactical retreat, with the aim of a return some time down the road.

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People will make their own choices, and no-one can underestimate how difficult they will be. It’s all too easy to get lost in hyperbole in this environment, we all know how daunting it is – and it will change as every day, every week, every month goes by.

How the overall market reopens, and how successfully, will be dependent on a range of factors: Government timetables, support and continuing restrictions; the financial strength of individual businesses; wider economic and business activity; the creativity and resolve of management and their teams; and the willingness of customers to return.

It’s fair to say that this latest Business Confidence report is by far the most important leaders’ survey I’ve ever been involved with, either at CGA or before that at Peach Factory, providing as we hope it does valuable and timely insight into the sector’s anxieties, challenges, plans and expectations, helping you in some way to map your own route through this ever evolving landscape.

So, let’s stay in touch, let’s keep talking.

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