Life in Leicester after lockdown: there are still plenty of opportunities out there

Leicester’s extended lockdown meant it was put on the world stage for all the wrong reasons – but the city has worked hard to come together and fight back.

That was the message from our latest webinar, sponsored by Barclays, entitled Life under extended lockdown… how Leicester came out fighting.

Our expert panel of local business owners and finance specialists discussed how the city’s professionals supported each other, highlighted the success stories and challenges the extended lockdown has thrown up and offered advice to business owners in other parts of the UK which is already – or could at some point in the future – be faced with the same localised restrictions.

Tony Reynolds, head of business banking, East Midlands, Barclays, said he thought the lockdown extension was justified.

He added: “It seemed to be the right action at the time, and, as time has gone on, we’ve built trust and have come out of the other side.”

Byron Dixon, founder and CEO, Micro-Fresh said the lockdown had been a “grueling time”.

“It’s not been good for the city; it’s put focus of the world on Leicester. We supported our staff as much as we possibly could when lockdown was announced as they moved to work from home. They’ve been fantastic under the circumstances.”

Kevin Harris, RSM and chair of Leicester and Leicestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Speaking with my LEP hat on – we did get some notification that the lockdown period was going to be extended. However, if we can take some positives from the lockdown, it’s that it gave a lot of entrepreneurs time to work on their businesses and look at how they could make them a lot more efficient.”

Kamal Dhutia, director at BI Limited, had to furlough 42 of his staff. “Only eight people remained throughout the lockdown,” he said. “One of things we really missed was the social element of going to work with a group of people we had really got to know.”

Looking to the future, Reynolds offered the following advice to business owners in other cities which are facing a local lockdown.

He said: “Make sure you have good networks. Look for the support that’s out there. And remember: anything can happen; there are still plenty of opportunities out there.”

A full playback of the webinar will be available later this week.