The Past, Present, and Future

How have businesses dealt with the devastating effects of Covid and Brexit and what challenges and opportunities do businesses face in the future?

On this edition of The Business Brunch, we were joined by some of Oxfordshire’s leading professional advisers Rebecca Howlett, Leon Arnold, Philip Gray from Freeths Solicitors and James Pitt from James Cowper Kreston Accountants who discussed the ways in which businesses can prepare for the future whilst acknowledging the traumas that many businesses have experienced over the past 12 months.

Rebecca Howlett, Freeths
Leon Arnold
Leon Arnold, Freeths
Phil Gray
Phil Gray, Freeths
James Pitt, James Cowper Kreston

Property expert Philip Gray summed up the catastrophic aftermath of the property market for some sectors which have been devastated by the pandemic. He has been busy with rent deferrals/review negotiations and how his clients can reconfigure their existing properties to reflect their business requirements in a post pandemic business world. “The changes in working practices for many of our clients are making them think long and hard about their property requirements and commitments moving forward.” 

“The changes in working practices for many of our clients are making them think long and hard about their property requirements and commitments moving forward.”

Philip Gray

James Pitt spoke about how the “first few months were very turbulent and we were trying to keep on top of the (almost daily) new schemes announced by the government. We were advising clients on cash conservation and other ways to save money. Many of our clients could ask their staff to work from home whilst others had to make their offices COVID safe. Since the summer we have been helping our clients to prepare for the future and many are expecting to grow with recruitment and investment being top of the agenda.”

“Since the summer we have been helping our clients to prepare for the future and many are expecting to grow with recruitment and investment being top of the agenda.”

James Pitt

Rebecca Howlett went on to talk about how she is “focusing on the impact of Brexit and what will be the true cost of Brexit for our clients. We’re advising on visas, customs agents (if you haven’t got one you will need one) and, with the economy still in a very uncertain place, there’s going to be even more uncertainty with exchange rates.” Rebecca also highlighted that “a particular growth industry that I’m working with is the Beauty and Personal Care market which is experiencing significant growth, although there have been some casualties such as Becca which will cease operations from September. Becca is owned by Estée Lauder, who saw a 62% downturn in make-up sales in Q2.”

“with the economy still in a very uncertain place, there’s going to be even more uncertainty with exchange rates.”

Rebecca Howlett

Leon Arnold expressed how he feels confident and is “really encouraged and sees some really positive signs for the future. We’re seeing a high level of transactions in the Oxford office – it’s a very active deal market with little in the way of distressed sales.”Philip Gray summed up that, “It might take a shift in emphasis in how space is presented by landlords and used by occupiers to focus on the wellbeing and safety of the occupiers to retain and attract talent. Also adaptability and re-purposing – finding alternative uses for existing vacant properties. Flexibility in leases is also likely to be the watch-word over the coming years.”

“Flexibility in leases is also likely to be the watch-word over the coming years.”

Leon Arnold

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