Two years on from the first national lockdown, businesses are still feeling the effects of the Covid pandemic thanks to continuing sickness absences and a lack of people having had to shed staff during the economic downturn in order to survive.
Even the upturn is proving challenging, with rising global demand for energy pushing up bills and making the costs of everything from manufacturing to distribution more costly, a situation worsened by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Recruitment is also proving difficult, with entire sectors struggling to attract workers - a problem economists at the Office for Budget Responsibility predict could last two years and lead to even higher inflation as businesses offer bigger salaries to get the talent they need.
Babs Murphy, chief executive of BIBAs organiser the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said that against this backdrop, it’s encouraging that so many firms have still taken the time to enter the county’s biggest and most established business awards.
She said: “It may seem like we’re through the worst of the pandemic, but that’s far from true for many businesses that are faced with staff shortages and spiralling costs.
“It’s clearly going to take some time to return to what we’d all consider ‘business as usual’ and there will no doubt be further bumps in the road yet to come, but the fact so many county business have applied for a shot at glory in this year’s BIBAs suggests that confidence is still growing here despite the pressures businesses are facing.”
This year saw more than 270 entries from businesses seeking recognition in 19 separate categories, submitted ahead of the April 5 deadline.
Written applications will now be scrutinised by the organisers and judges before entrants are interviewed in the summer.
Ms Murphy added: “Lancashire’s business community has shown time and again just how resilient it is to crises, with individual businesses showing real grit, inventiveness and a desire to succeed against the odds.