By Dave Baldwin
Whether you’re partial to a pint of Landlord or not, the news that Timothy Taylor is brewing again will provide some cheer that Bradford, and Britain, is getting back to business. It’s what we do best and, after the peak of the pandemic, it’s a welcome relief that companies are finding ways to safely resume operations. I’ll raise a glass to that.
The historic Keighley company halted production of its famous cask ale when lockdown took effect on March 23. But weekly bottled sales more than doubled during the period, according to the family-owned brewery, as beer lovers embraced the new normal. (ONS said UK off-licences saw a 31 per cent rise in volumes in a month.)
Taylor’s thanked its bottling partner Hall & Woodhouse for pulling out the stops to help meet demand. It’s a reminder of the importance of supply chains in helping our economy rebuild after this crisis. Many of our businesses are part of international systems and their global customers can take confidence in the response of Bradford companies like Luxury Fabrics.
Based at Stanley Mills, the textiles manufacturer managed to safely weave its worsted and woollen cloth throughout the lockdown and has continued to dispatch orders. It is starting to see the green shoots of recovery as new enquiries come in from clients in Asia and Europe. “We are fortunate to have a loyal customer base and look forward to working with them as soon as possible,” the company told Drapers.
Morrisons has won praise for its efforts to support its UK supply chain. The Bradford-based grocer has extended its immediate payment policy to smaller suppliers for a further three months. The policy covers around 3,000 small suppliers, including 1,750 farmers. The large supermarket groups have previously faced criticism for their treatment of suppliers so this is a welcome move.
David Potts, chief executive, said: “Small foodmakers and farmers have helped us to play our full part in feeding the nation. They have told us they face continued financial pressure and we want to be there for them during this challenging period.” Morrisons introduced the measures in March. They run until September.
Bradford companies are helping to provide safe environments for people to return to work as the lockdown lifts. Mansfield Pollard, a designer and manufacturer of air management systems, is launching a range of air sterilisation units which kill airborne bacteria and viruses to help support the economic recovery of the UK.
Lou Frankland, managing director, said: “This technology has been proven to destroy bacteria and viruses, including coronaviruses, bringing huge benefits for the healthcare sector, which is initially our primary focus.”
She added: “But because of its flexibility and mobility, the UV air sterilisation units have the potential to be introduced within a range of working, educational and leisure environments. With this in mind, we are ready to quickly and safely upscale our production to satisfy the demand we expect to see.”
It’s inspiring to see a new wave of entrepreneurs emerging from this crisis. Bradford teenager Harvey Ryder, 18, is using a 3D printer bought as a birthday present to produce vital personal protective equipment for local hospitals, GP practices, pharmacies and care homes. The former Hanson Academy student and his friends have produced 1,500 visors to date.
Sandy Needham, chief executive of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, said: “Harvey is a wonderful example of a new generation of designers, engineers and manufacturers who embrace today’s digital technology to innovate, produce and supply resources which are vital to the functionality of our region and the country.”
The crisis might be keeping us physically distant, but it is bringing us closer together in other ways. Independent retailers and makers have come together to sell their wares at the virtual Bradford Street Market, a growing Facebook group conceived by Catherine Simes, author of the blog You Can Take the Girl Out of Bradford.
She said: “We wanted to create an online indie quarter to promote the best of Bradford’s independent businesses and an online community-marketplace for them to benefit from a shared online presence and customer base. I really hope that support will continue after the lockdown and that people will appreciate the value of keeping money in the local economy.”
Taken together, you can see that small, medium and large companies are doing their best to support Bradford and Britain as we come out of this crisis. I will leave the last word to Hafsah Syeed, the 20-year-old entrepreneur behind DU’AAA Ltd, which designs and makes affordable modest wear. Speaking about the Bradford business community, she said: “You realise how lucky you are when you’re in Bradford. I love they’ve all got that drive and motivation. They’re not letting anything stop them.”