Half of businesses say pandemic prompted innovation

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a wave of innovation as businesses pivoted their operations to survive, according to a survey from Lloyds Bank.

Almost half (48 per cent) of UK businesses said the pandemic forced them to be more creative and innovative in finding new areas of growth with nearly six-in-ten (56 per cent) making changes to their operations as a result.

Operational changes included expanding their online offering (21 per cent), adapting their ways of working (20 per cent) and increasing the number of products or services they offer (17 per cent) and growing the number of services or products they offer (25 per cent).

With many of these changes likely to have been made in order to help businesses survive through the pandemic and in particular the lockdowns, one quarter (25 per cent) said that their operational changes have boosted revenues and profits.

The survey also found that the forced innovation will bring long-term benefits with more than half (51 per cent) of businesses planning to keep their changes in the long term.

Manufacturers were most likely to make changes to their operating patterns (28 per cent vs 20 per cent UK average) and to expand the products they offered (22 per cent vs 17 per cent).

Retail was the top sector for expanding online offerings (25 per cent vs 21 per cent UK average), buoyed by the shift to e-commerce.

Over 40 per cent of businesses in all regions reported making pivots with those in London (63 per cent) and the North East (61 per cent) were most likely to innovate as a result.

Both regions also reported that these changes had boosted their revenues and profits (32 per cent and 43 per cent respectively). The North West was the region where businesses were least likely to make changes during the pandemic, with over half (52 per cent) not making adaptations to their operating patterns or products offering.

Paul Gordon, managing director for SME and mid corporates, at Lloyds Bank commercial banking, said: “UK businesses have shown real resilience over the past 18 months. What’s interesting is that so many have made permanent changes to survive, with many growing revenues and profits from their pivots.

“But while this is great to see, we know that it’s not been easy for many. We’ll work by the side of businesses to ensure they can access the help and support they need to recover and ultimately to grow as we get back to more normal trading conditions.”

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