UK Businesses Experience Fastest Growth In 5 Years
The final composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) from / revealed on Wednesday a rise to 57.0. This is a notable increase from the June rating, which was recorded at 47.7. This score is the highest recorded for businesses since June 2015, and is close to the provisional flash reading that was put in at 57.1.
The PMI score for the services market also hit a five-year high in July, scoring 56.5, against a record of 47.1 in June 2020. Whilst just below the flash reading, these scores still demonstrate a recovery for UK businesses following COVID-19 induced slumps.
“UK service providers are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel after a record slump in business activity during the second quarter of 2020,” Tim Moore, the IHS Markit economics director said in a statement.
PMI figures are reflective of the rate of growth within industries, rather than the levels of output and production. March and April saw Britain lose 25% of output, which economists predict will take years to recover from, following the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruptions it brought.
On July 4th 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson allowed pubs, cafes and restaurants to reopen their doors to the public, welcoming consumers back in after a spell that lasted more than 3 months being locked down and unable to serve customers inside their establishments. Whilst takeaway services were provided by many, it wasn’t enough to plug the gap. Retail stores also returned to trading in June as lockdown measures began to ease.
In June, retail sales had quickly returned to a level similar to which they were at in June 2019, and purchases of housing also saw strong improvements throughout June, a good month for the recovery of businesses.
Other sectors, however, have struggled to keep up with the recovering states of these industries. Entertainment and arts venues have had longer spells of lockdowns, with bowling alleys and clubs still closed with no end in sight, and limited numbers allowed in venues such as cinemas. Officials representing the Bank of England have warned that the initial burst of demand could taper off, further threatening growth and recovery figures.
The furlough scheme, a job support scheme from the UK government, is set to end in October. To date, this scheme has helped to protect the unemployment rate within the UK from rising. However, employment figures from July remained well below 50, suggesting that a number of employers are considering job cuts, which could be largely detrimental to long-term business recovery.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.