Lancashire businesses must dig in amid economic headwinds, BIBAs chief says

Lancashire businesses are still facing strong headwinds, but must continue to dig in and tough it out, organisers of the county’s biggest business awards have said.

By Tim Gavell
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 4:55 am

War in Ukraine, spiralling energy bills, the so-called “Great Resignation”, supply chain disruption as yet another legacy of the Covid pandemic, and now a rise in the Bank of England base rate all mean that firms across the county are under significant pressure.

As a result, there is mounting concern about the number of businesses in distress and at risk of collapse.

Business recovery experts Begbies Traynor recently released figures showing that more than 9,829 Lancashire businesses are currently in “significant distress”. Of these, 1,263 are in property and real estate, a further 1,420 in construction and 1,359 in support services.

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The Longlands Hotel, Carnforth, which won the BIBAs resilience award last year

Babs Murphy, chief executive at the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce which organises the Be Inspired in Business Awards said it was a worry that so many businesses are struggling and that trading conditions look like they may worsen in the short term.

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This development site earmarked for 350 homes in Great Eccleston has been sold

She said: “According to the Red Flag Alert data from Begbies Traynor, somewhere close to 18 per cent of Lancashire businesses are in trouble.

“That’s a major concern for all of us, because firms don’t fail in isolation. The collapse of a business affects its customers, suppliers and, of course, its people, and often leaves taxpayers on the hook for some of its debts.

“We need to see the government intervening where it can in order to try and alleviate some of the pressures businesses are facing."

Babs added that it was important for businesses to continue boosting their resilience in every way they can, from taking cost avoidance measures, making savings and reducing risks to exploring new partnerships, innovating and working more closely with customers and suppliers.

The BIBAs has a category for Most Resilient Business of the Year again this time around.

Created for the 2021 awards to recognise the challenges thrown at Lancashire businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was won by Barry Robinson Leisure (Longlands Hotel).

“Resilience continues to be the watchword for success given current conditions, and we look forward to recognising and celebrating this in September when we hand out an award to the Lancashire business that’s shown the most grit and determination in the last 12 months,” concluded Babs.

Later this week, this year’s crop of BIBAs judges will be put through their training to make sure they’re able to undertake the judging process fairly and in keeping with the protocols set down by the organisers.

This includes getting to grips with the competition rules, accessing and using the BIBAs online scoring system, and how to score the applications submitted by competition entrants as well as how they perform when put through their paces during their interview.

The BIBAs prides itself on the rigour of its judging process, which is designed to remove bias and ensure that only the most deserving businesses win in their categories.

It relies on unique benchmarking criteria developed by Lancaster University Management School following a research project that aligned the BIBAs judging process with America’s top business awards, The Stevies, the European Business Awards, and the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise here in the UK.