Hello 2021 & Goodbye 2020!
By Peter Bowen who is owner of The Design Shop (Swindon) Ltd. This company comprises of a team of talented carpenters and joiners who have pivoted from the devastated exhibition and live event industry to design, manufacture and project manage the installation of bespoke kitchens and bedroom furniture, garden offices and creative commercial interiors.
As the year starts to turn – how are you feeling about 2021?
With the recent news that several vaccines should be made available soon, we are feeling optimistic about 2021 providing everyone behaves themselves leading up to Christmas by continuing to think of others before themselves. Many customers have held back on their larger projects, but as things start to normalise, we expect that to change.
What are your business goals for the coming year?
We have been involved in some incredibly existing projects in recent years both domestic and commercial so we are hoping that once lockdown is lifted and things start to get back to normal, more customers will want to invest in their infrastructure both at home and at work.
The office environment has changed. People need to feel safe so owners and managers need to provide a working space that reflects the needs of their staff in this new normal.
Our designers are experts in space management and have the skills to create dynamic working spaces that are both practical and modern. With many customers now forced to communicate with their customers and suppliers virtually, we provide that creative backdrop that houses the technology and can design showrooms and offices that are Covid Safe.
Will you be looking for any new local suppliers in 2021?
Unfortunately, many of our suppliers have been forced to close during the pandemic so sourcing new suppliers in 2021 will be a priority. This will mainly be material suppliers such as timber, finishes and other specialist construction materials.
Looking back across 2020 – name three highlights for you and your business?
The main highlight for 2020 is that we survived.
Having been in the exhibition industry for 30 years it has been devastating to see so many companies close and so many people/ friends lose their jobs.
We are fortunate because we have a large and loyal client base who have asked us to design their offices, showrooms and even parts of their homes.
Pivoting in this direction has been a natural transition only possible because we have a talented and loyal workforce who have all made incredible sacrifices to keep the business going.
Looking back across 2020 – were there any lowlights? How did you face them?
2020 should have been a record year for the company but on the 16th March 2020 our exhibition and event order book went from being full to non-existent. We had £500,000 worth of cancellations and refunds in just one day after the government closed our industry down and turned our exhibition halls into Nightingale Hospitals, which we fully supported.
Although we were initially told that we would reopen on the 1st October we still have no idea when the halls will open, if at all. But rather than feeling lost or sorry for ourselves we quickly used our skills to make hospitals, doctor’s surgeries, and schools safe by building Covid safe environments.
Who, in your business community – have been the shining stars of 2020?
Without question our shining stars have been our staff. To remain loyal and focussed when everything around you is crumbling is truly astonishing.
In particular, Emma Thatcher, who celebrates 20 years with the company this month and Reg Baker who has been with us from the start.
The resilience of those remaining in our industry and the resourcefulness of those who have not. I know of many senior mangers who are now delivery drivers or carers.
2020 has truly been an incredible year with many winners and losers but to me it has been defined by the love and humanity we have experienced from customers, colleagues, and suppliers. Friendships, although distanced, have strengthened but our thanks must go to all those who have kept us safe particularly those working in care and in the NHS.
Find out more via www.design-shop.co.uk