Driving business growth during turbulent times

Business continuity and growth are the key challenges in these unprecedented times for all business leaders and entrepreneurs. Government lockdowns and travel bans are taking their toll on earnings, employee safety and all business operations. Our Resource Hub brings you insights and intelligence from a range of business leaders, detailing the steps they are taking to protect their businesses and operate under these new conditions.

What your peers say

We have surveyed business leaders in our network, initially asking them four key questions regarding their response to these new circumstances.

"We have our own aircrafts and have partnered with delivery services such as FedEx to ensure our clients receive their goods as quickly as possible. We make the sales process so easy for our clients by providing proof of livestock quickly. We will move as fast as our client needs us to and most of the time that means we sometimes have to work until early hours in the morning to ensure 100% customer satisfaction."

- Stafford Carrington, CEO, Humanitas
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Can you tell us more about Humanitas Global Logistics?
Humanitas Global Logistics is committed to the continuous delivery of reliable and creative healthcare products, with advanced technologies from all over the world. Since the business started earlier this year, we have grown from a team of 2 to 55 to ensure we are able to give our clients the service they deserve. We source goods from Asia and more expansively sourcing on demand products worldwide. We are well positioned to carry these products to clients across our networks and distribution channels. We work with the world’s leading logistics partners, meaning we are well placed to offer these goods in an expedited manner.
We are known for having good relationships with our distributors. We only form alliances with the best vendors in the world. Our relationships enable us to specialise in the full goods and services spectrum of the manufacturer with our ‘narrow and deep’ approach. Our goal is to put the brand new and well marketed healthcare products, of the world, in place to benefit humanity. By doing so, we aim to promote optimism, hope for a speedy recovery and a positive outcome for the future.
What was the motivation behind starting Humanitas?
I’ve always been passionate about helping people and believe everyone should have equal access to the fundamentals of life, good health and safety products. I wanted do my part to help create positive change and save lives. I noticed that the lack of PPE was one of the reasons the death rates were climbing daily, especially in developing countries. The first thing I did was to source and donate product to healthcare workers in Africa. The demand for medical supplies didn’t stop, and I realised that the world has changed and our healthcare services and businesses would need the constant flow of quality medical supplies during Covid-19 and beyond. I focused on building alliances with great suppliers to distribute high standard products and equipment at a fair price.
What kinds of products and services do you provide?
We offer 360-degree pandemic solutions from consultancy to testing kits and we are committed to help stop the spread of the virus. We provide all your FDA approved safety essentials such as gloves, masks and hand sanitisers. We also offer testing equipment, ventilators and Covid-19 tests and we are constantly researching new market trends to ensure we meet our clients’ demands. Our sales ambassadors go above and beyond to ensure our clients receive their order quickly and efficiently. We offer round-the-clock care and we are transparent and honest in our dealings.
Who can benefit from the services and products Humanitas produce?
We offer our services to governments, NGOs, healthcare services, construction companies and small businesses. As lockdown restrictions all over the world have been lifted and businesses reopened the need for big quantities of PPE has increased. Many small businesses and construction companies in different areas of the world do not have enough PPE to protect themselves and their workforce. We are able to distribute product to every continent in the world and we work hard on a daily basis to ensure of clients never lack essential supplies.
How do you ensure the quick and efficient deliverability of supplies and services?
We have our own aircrafts and have partnered with delivery services such as FedEx to ensure our clients receive their goods as quickly as possible. We make the sales process so easy for our clients by providing proof of livestock quickly. We will move as fast as our client needs us to and most of the time that means we sometimes have to work until early hours in the morning to ensure 100% customer satisfaction.
How can Humanitas help in reducing the spread of COVID-19?
We provide everything businesses need to protect themselves and their workforce. In the current climate and even in years to come PPE and innovative medical devices is essential to deterring an outbreak like the Covid-19 pandemic. Essentially a constant supply of quality healthcare products will keep people safe and slow down the spread of coronavirus.
Was Humanitas just built to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic?
Humanitas was built to help protect frontline workers and provide medical supplies to those that needed it most. We focused on helping individuals in our developing countries as a priority so they had the equipment they needed to protect themselves and save lives. However, we are just not here for the pandemic we aim to be an organisation that continues to supply the very best healthcare products to help aid rehabilitation from injury and illness. We will continue to conduct industry research and identify market trends to ensure we are providing essential product for businesses and our healthcare services for years to come.
Where do you see Humanitas in the next 5-years?
There’s lots of great things in the pipeline that we are planning to launch in the next few years. We are growing rapidly as the demand for medical supplies increases and our customer database. We are planning to build production factories and tracking watches which will identify individuals with viruses in the near future.

"In March we decided to make all Twinkl resources, which is over 650,000, free to help teachers, parents and carers to prepare for and conduct home learning."

- Jonathan Seaton, Co-founder and CEO, Twinkl
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What was the inspiration behind Twinkl and how did the concept become reality?
The idea for Twinkl came to me and my wife Susie 10 years ago when she was working as a school teacher and couldn’t find any resources she needed for her lessons online. Extensive searches by us both showed that these were either unavailable or were not good quality. Susie was working well into the night to make the resources herself and after speaking to our colleagues and friends, we soon found that she was not alone in her situation. This sparked an idea.
Spotting a gap in the market, we pushed away from traditional print publishing and started creating high-quality, digital resources from our spare room. For over two years I got up at 4am to create resources before leaving for my job at the time and would then continue making resources until midnight once I got home. I learnt as I went, carving a path through execution and feedback. It began as a small enterprise that operated on an “after work” basis, but quickly grew as educators embraced the high-quality materials we were providing. With that, Twinkl was born.
We founded the company with the mission to help those who teach and this is something that is still at the core of everything we do at Twinkl today. By listening to educators and putting them at the heart of the business, we are able to deliver resources that they actually want and need. The majority of team members at Twinkl have also always been current and former teachers, which helps us ensure we are providing materials that are really high quality and right for people. It’s an honour to now work with the global teaching community and to be helping people around the world.
Twinkl was in a unique position to help out families and schools during the lockdown. How did you go about offering that support and dealing with the demand especially with your team also not being able to come to the office?
Our mission has and always will be to help those who teach. It has also always been important to us that children have access to learning, whatever the circumstance.
We knew that we needed to help now more than ever and that our digital resources could support people as schools closed or faced closure. In March we decided to make all Twinkl resources, which is over 650,000, free to help teachers, parents and carers to prepare for and conduct home learning.
To do this we created codes that could be used in different countries and areas to give people free access to the site. We also informed schools that they could contact us directly to be set up with free access. As we created the codes we started contacting ministries of education, schools, teachers, parents and carers in countries and areas where schools were closing. We shared the code with them and information about how they could get access. To help ensure we reached as many people as possible we also shared the information across our social media channels and encouraged people to share the codes with anyone it could help. The team reached out to over 250 countries and regions around the world, including those where schools had not yet closed, to support contingency planning. It was incredibly challenging and time-consuming to do something so huge in such a short time-scale but we wanted to help as much as possible and stay true to our mission.
When the team all moved to work remotely, this increased the challenges we faced but also our determination to keep helping. As a digital business, we were fortunate to be able to continue all our operations. We also have an incredibly talented and adaptable team. Most importantly, we kept all communication channels open and flowing to ensure people had the support they needed.
The response we've had from schools, educators and parents has been amazing and we have heard from people all around the world. We're so proud our offer of help has reached so many and to hear about how it has made a difference and see all the amazing ways our resources have been used at home.
With children beginning to return to the classroom, we are still as committed as ever to supporting teachers, parents and carers to navigate this unusual time and to equipping them with high-quality resources and tools. It wasn’t sustainable for us to keep the resources free forever, but we did so for three months. The Home Learning Hub we created, which offers daily lessons, activities and resources for all age groups, will continue to be free for as long as it is needed. We have also introduced a new planner tool to allow schools to easily share personalised content with their pupils, which will enable work to be much more tailored to each pupil's needs.
What have been your biggest learnings as an education business over the past four months?
For us, the biggest takeaway from this situation is definitely the power of education and the resilience of educators. With little warning, many parents faced the new challenge of teaching their children at home, and students found themselves trying to navigate distance learning. Teachers have done incredible things to support home learning, despite having to transition to remote classrooms and now facing the uncertainties of returning to school.
The things schools, teachers, parents and carers have been doing to help their children is incredible and it has been an honour to have been able to support them through such a challenging time.
Another thing that this unprecedented situation has really highlighted is that valuable learning does not only happen in the walls of a classroom. It’s been amazing to see the ways in which children have been learning through hands-on learning experiences, such as planting seeds in a vegetable patch or watching dough rise in the oven. If there is anything that we can take from this it is that, no matter what happens, the world keeps turning and the world keeps learning!
Any tips for parents who work and home school?
Home-learning is unfamiliar territory for many and we know from speaking to educators all across the world that they have felt enormous pressure. It can be really overwhelming but people should remember to be kind to themselves and that there are a lot of incredible tools on offer to support them.
A good way to balance home learning and working from home is to give children activities that they can do independently; audiobooks are great, workbooks, and less-messy crafts. Another tip to keep children engaged whilst you are working is to keep the activities varied; encouraging them to play games and be active outside, as well as doing tasks or worksheets. Giving them regular breaks where they can just play is important too.
Our Home Learning Hub was created to provide this variety as it offers a new set of daily activities for home-schoolers to get involved with. This includes PE sessions with Joe Wicks, qualified teachers hosting book readings, live lessons, positive news updates to explore and more. We also have a dedicated Parents section of our site with useful guides to help parents understand what children should be learning in each year group.
Ultimately, we have experienced many changes to our lives as a result of the coronavirus and people have had to quickly adapt to new ways of learning. We want home-schoolers to know about the help that is available, but also that it is completely ok to need and ask for this. We have been in complete awe of the way parents and teachers have come together to help children and young people keep learning throughout these circumstances. They are doing an incredible job and I hope that they know that! We just want to offer something towards helping during this difficult time.

“On the property side, we have had to shut down all our developments under construction which has resulted in furloughing over 30 staff and on top of that, we have had to manage our commercial & residential tenants who in many cases are unable to keep up with rent payments.”

- Joe Fogel, Managing Director, House Group Developments
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How has your business been affected by the current pandemic?
As with many businesses in both the packaging and property/construction industry, we have been directly affected and greatly impacted by the current pandemic.
Firstly, on the packaging side, our main customer base is food service and with the closure of all cafes, deli’s, restaurants and all hospitality, the demand and requirement for bespoke packaging has completely ceased. There is still a small requirement for take-away packaging however this only makes up 5-10% of our business.
How are you and your business adapting to these changes?
With VaioPak, we have added many new takeaway packaging lines to our E-commerce platform which offers next day, zero contact deliveries. We have also added a large PPE range which has sold very well and in many cases, supported the NHS requirements with them being one of our customers.
With House Group Developments, we have had to work directly with our tenants, working out payment plans and any further support we can offer during these troubling times
How has your technology held up, have you had to explore new options since March?
Luckily, in both businesses we have invested heavily in IT cloud based solutions over the past 2 years which we really have seen the benefit of during this pandemic.
Not only with the ability to switch all staff to home based working within a few hours but also our investment in various PropTech platforms which has allowed us to give regular updates to our portfolio of tenants with the click of a button and track all payment plans which we have implemented.
What technology are you now using that potentially will improve your everyday once the lockdown is lifted?
As above, pretty much all software & technology within both businesses is cloud based and I think that is very much the future. In my view, many businesses who have suffered greatly with the overnight switch to working from home are those who are using outdated software and old school working methods.

“Pivot towards content production, app building and healthcare - three other revenue streams.”

- Andrew Nugée, Founder and CEO, Imagineear
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How has your business been affected by the current pandemic?
  • Pretty severe impact on per visitor revenues from attractions - a big revenue stream for us. In Amsterdam for example, we lost 80% of our revenue base overnight
  • Pivot towards content production, app building and healthcare - three other revenue streams
  • Urgently reviewing other possible revenue streams - very busy in business development
  • Desk-based staff all managing to work from home
  • Site-based staff all furloughed - and training. Our furlough policy has several components:
    • We pay 100%, so make up the difference
    • We ask furloughed staff to undergo training, and provide LinkedIn Learning accounts for all (allows us to monitor as well)
    • We furlough whole teams at a time; defining workers vs non-workers within teams would be divisive and corrosive
    • All of the above is of course subject to change if necessary
  • Otherwise staff are working well, remain pretty focussed, and delivering - very proud of them
How are you and your business adapting to these changes?
  • We - senior management - are communicating more. For example, our quarterly company meeting is now monthly online, and more inclusive, because it can address all offices and staff in one go. And we now have an additional mid-tier management meeting monthly
  • Middle management are communicating more. We run a weekly zoom call to discuss one aspect of the business or projects or another
  • In working to compensate for the physical proximity of the London office we thus become virtually closer as a business. This is very interesting and positive.
How has your technology held up, have you had to explore new options since March?
  • We have taken the opportunity to overhaul and develop in-house enabling technologies like stock checking platform
  • We have had the opportunity to develop the software used on our devices and for our clients, eg our content management system
  • Our other technologies are standardised: laptop, iPad, phone, internet, access to server, etc - all working perfectly fine as far as I hear.
What technology are you now using that potentially will improve your everyday once the lockdown is lifted?
  • Like I imagine everyone on the planet, we are now all increasingly proficient at using Zoom, and video meetings will become a feature of any future scenario
  • We will doubtless preserve some of the additional communication, and run some meetings by Zoom. I will need to see whether I can run a combo Zoom and presentation meeting - ie streamed and projected at the same time. If so, we will certainly do this.

What our sister publication Real Deals says

Explore the ways in which private equity and venture capital investors are responding to the current situation; how they are protecting and supporting their UK SME portfolio companies, by visiting Real Deals’ website

See more stories

What to watch and download

Review whitepapers, infographic reports, ebooks and other published material that will support your finance function in these new circumstances.

CCB Business support brochure

Coronavirus - support for businesses. This document outlines some of the support available to you and your business to ensure you’re well prepared for now and the future. Coronavirus – All. Together. Now. It’s clear that coronavirus has everyone feeling on edge and uncertain at the moment.

Coronavirus government support for businesses

We know things are uncertain at the moment, so we want to reassure you what we’re here to help you. On top of any financial support you might need, the Government has launched a range of temporary measures to support your business through this period of disruption caused by coronavirus.

Webinar: The roadmap to Covid-19 recovery

This webinar assesses the current environment and plot a roadmap to Covid-19 recovery. In such unprecedented times as this, it is crucial to take both a macro and micro view of the impact of the crisis and plot potential recovery.

Webinar: Offence is the best defence

In the face of widespread disruption and major upheaval to all aspects of work and personal life, the most important task for private equity managers has been to communicate clearly and consistently with their investors.

Report: Covid-19 Global Survey: Inside business- impacts and responses

ACCA's global research with over 10,000 finance professionals identifies a wide range of business and financial challenges facing organisations of all sizes and across all sectors

Santander Industry Insights

The pandemic is impacting every sector in different ways. Santander's insight series unpicks the details using the latest data and expert commentary.

What we're reading

Here you can find our curation of expert articles from across the globe that are practical, insightful and will keep you up to date with further developments.

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