John Spencer, BizSpace
SMEs are increasingly looking local to build their supply chains and customer base in the wake of Covid and Brexit, says John Spencer, Chief Executive of BizSpace, a provider of flexible workshop and office space for SMEs.
SMEs are increasingly looking to create and strengthen local economies in the wake of the Covid pandemic and Brexit, says John Spencer, chief exec of BizSpace, a provider of flexible office and workshop space to SMEs.
He says that fears of local supply chain disruptions combined with a desire to create stronger local economic prosperity and communities have caused many businesses to look for local suppliers and customers rather than rely on national or international supply chains.
He says: “During the pandemic businesses have been very reliant on other and we are seeing businesses start to create their own local infrastructure. We are seeing a stronger demand for local goods from customers and as a result we are seeing demand increase from businesses for local services and more resilient local infrastructures.”
John adds: “There is no doubt that the pandemic has caused that, but it has been strongly influenced by Brexit as well. I suspect that will continue and that we will see the emergence of stronger local economies which will continue to grow.”
John says that this focus on building strong local economies is reflecting what is happening in the broader political arena.
He says: “If you take the political landscape, we are seeing the Scots and the Welsh talking about devolution, and that is even happening in places such as Yorkshire and Cornwall as well. What that is telling us is that people want local control. Consumers increasingly want to have deliveries from local businesses rather than national or international deliveries, and that means that businesses need to have resilient supply chains in that local market.”
He says: “I think we will see SMEs tapping into that local market and serving that local market.”
Over the past year John has seen at first hand greater collaboration between businesses at a local level in BizSpace’s workspaces around the country. He says: “What we are seeing in our business centres is that a lot of businesses are increasingly networking together and supplying each other. A business that needs components, for example, will buy them from a company that might be on the same industrial estate or even in the same building. And that element is certainly becoming stronger. As a result, the community that you get within a business centre of SMEs is quite strong.”
John says that it is not only SMEs which are seeing the power of creating local economies – it is increasingly corporates too. Over the last few months BizSpace has seen a sharp increase in enquiries from corporate businesses seeking office space in its business centres.
He says: “I think the pandemic has changed people’s attitudes. It is no longer about having the right links in and around London – now it is about local companies providing local markets. We believe that the local office and industrial workshop market will grow quite quickly in the suburban regional areas over the next couple of years.”
John thinks that this focus on creating strong local markets is going to be hugely beneficial for SMEs, not just in terms of the resilient supply chain they can create, but also in terms of the market niche they will be able to create to attract customers.
“They are going to become specialists in the areas in which they work, and they are going to work with other business which are equally specialist in their areas, and I think that will drive local prosperity.”
John’s Top Tips
1. Have a very clear business proposition
2. Research and understand your local market
3. Network, network, network