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Preparing for rough waters

Our most recent face to face members’ meeting was held during a period of extraordinary political turbulence, which became even more stormy in the days that followed.

But far from heading to the lifeboats, local businesses are battening down the hatches and facing up to the challenges with a sense of realism, not to mention a touch of optimism, borne out of their huge experience of operating in difficult circumstances in years gone by. In some ways, the recent period of ultra low interest rates was unusual and members remember the decades of much higher rates which provided business with different challenges.

One comment hit the nail on the head and was shared by others around the table: “You have to work in the market as it is.” In other words, don’t waste your breath raging about things you can’t control, but rather focus your attention on what you can control, and get your business into the best shape to cope with what is to come.

People are reporting a number of positives despite the constant diet of doom and gloom we are fed by the national news. That’s not to underplay the difficulties that exist, it’s just to say that the picture is not uniformly bleak. There are encouraging stories which also deserve to be mentioned.

For example, although the property market is under pressure with rising mortgage rates, there does not seem to have been a change in local instructions or sales as yet, though there is no saying what happens when fixed rate deals end in two or three years time.

People are still advertising in local publications and as more people are going out and about, there is growing demand for Bed and Breakfast and Self Catering accommodation. Another member reported almost having more book keeping work than they could handle and an astonishing range of clients. The recruitment world was buoyant, with this year even stronger than the very profitable 2021. Recruitment businesses were often working more in partnership with each other and sharing fees, which had proved a very successful strategy.

Farmers have long moved into diversification and office spaces in converted buildings were in great demand. However, the long hot summer had impacted growers differently. Livestock farmers had been forced into an early use of expensive feed intended for the winter, because the grass was so poor due to the arid ground. On the other hand, wine producers were celebrating a lovely crop of clean and well ripened grapes which should make for a vintage year.

So, it’s a mixed picture, but plenty of reason to believe that our local economy is well equipped to cope with whatever is thrown at us.

If you would like to find out more about Chew Valley Chamber of Commerce have a look at our website:


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