– Uniformal and Olly’s Farm adapt to meet new business demands –
With businesses across Ireland forced to innovate and adapt to survive the impact of Covid-19, support services for SMEs and start-ups are also changing to meet new and increased demand. Rolling out new Government measures to support local business-owners and entrepreneurs, Local Enterprise Office South Dublin is today (14.04.2020) inviting eligible businesses to take up Business Continuity and Trading Online Voucher schemes, worth up to €2,500 each.
The schemes have been updated and designed to help companies and sole traders from across all sectors to make informed decisions about the measures needed to protect staff and sales in light of the Covid-19 crisis.
Chambers Ireland predicts current trading restrictions will result in revenue decline in the next three months for 94 per cent of businesses nationwide, with 73 per cent expecting a decline in excess of 25 per cent.
Through the Business Continuity Voucher scheme, business owners and entrepreneurs can access €2,500 from LEO South Dublin to go towards consultancy costs to develop short and long-term strategies in response to current trading restrictions.
Meanwhile the Trading Online Voucher scheme, which was originally developed as part of the Government’s National Digital Strategy, has been expanded to help small businesses trade online. The scheme funds up to €2,500 in costs for businesses and entrepreneurs to develop website payment facilities and booking systems, or to subscribe to low-cost online retail platforms.
According to LEO South Dublin’s Head of Enterprise Tom Rooney, online platforms will be essential to keep businesses trading during this period.
“These new measures have been designed to support small businesses to make informed decisions in what is, otherwise, a time of great uncertainty. We’re working closely with our clients to ensure that they are well-supported to take early, effective measures to safeguard their businesses as best they can. For many, that means quick, reliable solutions to get them trading online.”
“We’ve undergone a similar transition here at the Local Enterprise Office in South Dublin, moving all scheduled training and mentoring services online to ensure our clients receive the support they need during this difficult period.”
South Dublin businesses adapting to meet frontline needs
LEO South Dublin showcased how some of their clients are already adapting to ensure business continuity during the Covid-19 crisis.
Uniformal, which was founded by Chiara Keating and her husband in 2012, produces high-end uniforms for caterers, hotels and drinks companies such as Diageo. When the Covid-19 outbreak in China began to impact on the company’s supply chain, Ms. Keating looked to diversify their production, working with her team to design reusable facemasks and source materials from local suppliers. After producing an initial supply of 100,000 masks, Uniformal are now working seven days a week to produce 20,000 masks per week for staff at care homes and An Post.
“People laughed when I initially suggested the idea of producing face masks, but everything has happened so quickly; within three weeks we had completely overhauled our production line,” said Ms. Keating. “Now, we’re looking at other PPE solutions such as gloves, goggles, disposable aprons.”
Having received business support from the Local Enterprise Office in South Dublin in 2019, Uniformal will receive further support through the Business Continuity Scheme, which Ms. Keating says will be essential for their long-term outlook.
“At the moment, everything is happening at a million miles an hour to meet this urgent need for essential workers,” she said. “Our team have been amazing, even our IT Manager is now hands-on in the production line.
“At some point, we’ll need to look up and start planning beyond the crisis the country finds itself in now – to focus on rebuilding. We’ve worked with an incredible mentor at LEO South Dublin before, their advice and insight will be so important to support us through this.”
Online sales boost
Olly’s Farm, which produces pure raw honey from various apiaries across Dublin and Wicklow, is another LEO South Dublin client that has been adapting its business model in response to Covid-19 restrictions.
The company began as a smallholding in Glenasmole in 2012, with just two hives. Now with over 120 hives, Olly’s Farm supplies three local Supervalu stores, Kilruddy Farm Shop and Teeling’s Whiskey Distillery and, in 2019, founder Oliver Nolan saw a growing need to expand the business through online trading.
Through the Trading Online Scheme, the Local Enterprise Office in South Dublin supported Oliver to develop an online shop on the business website, launching in July 2019. Nolan has seen steady online sales since then but says that, since COVID-19 restrictions have caused some of his suppliers to close, his online sales have increased.
Mr. Nolan said: “There’s been a dramatic increase since shops closed their doors, online sales have gone up threefold. We’re operating a click and collect service and looking into how we might develop a subscription service. It’s fantastic to see loyal customers seeking out our product at times like this and putting their support behind local businesses.”
For more information on the supports available for business from LEO South Dublin, visit www.localenterprise.ie/SouthDublin/.