Innovative response

Firms pivot operations to survive pandemic

Bolt’s Car Hire in Shetland made a shift in operations

Almost half of businesses changed their operations in order to survive the Covid-19 pandemic and a third will make the changes permanent, according to a survey. 

It found that 48% of firms looked for ways to find new areas of growth, while one in eight (13%) said their operational changes have boosted revenues and profits.

The most common changes included selling more online (21%) and adapting shift patterns (20%).

Manufacturers were most likely to make changes to their operating patterns (28% vs 20% UK average) and to expand the products they offered (22% vs 17%).

Retail was the top sector for expanding online offerings (25% vs 21% UK average), buoyed by the shift to online consumer spending.

The survey by Lloyds Banking Group / Bank of Scotland involved 1,200 companies – including 97 in Scotland – between 1 and 15 July.

Shetland-based car hire firm Bolts Car Hire was one firm that changed its business model during the pandemic.

When Covid-19 hit and a stop was put to travel, it was left with 1,500 cancellations and 150 unused cars. To ensure sufficient cash flow, the business decided to tap into the rising demand for commercial vehicles from firms building new wind farms across Shetland. 

The business secured a £1million funding package to purchase 55 commercial vehicles including 20 vans and 31 4×4 pick-up trucks for wind farm constructors on the island.

John Garriock, managing director of Bolts Car Hire, said: “Tourism to Shetland had been on the rise for years, but the pandemic saw visitor numbers virtually stop overnight leaving our fleet of rental cars and taxis at a standstill.

“We saw an opportunity to diversify our operations and supply construction firms on the island with commercial vehicles for their work.”

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