Businesses which have been forced to adapt and diversify in order to overcome the impact of coronavirus will benefit from the new North-East now campaign.
With so many local firms having to alter their services since the Scottish Government introduced lockdown measures in March, North-East Now will share inspirational and positive stories, encouraging people to do what they can to support the local economies.
These positive stories include how regional businesses – from a wide range of industries including food, drink, fashion, beauty, lifestyle and more – have remained open during this difficult time.
Alan Fulton, from Cove, runs a mobile coffee van known as Cafe2U in Cove and the surrounding business parks. However since the Covid-19 outbreak, the business owner experienced a harrowing dip in trade.
Alan said: “When we initially went Into lockdown, there was a tremendous dip in my trade over night. I have over 40 companies on my daily route on a usual Friday, and come the Monday night – following news of lockdown – I was suddenly only left with 12.”
The 43-year-old refused to let this dampen his spirits. And with Government guidelines allowing him to continue trading, he has done everything in his power to avoid closing by making “sweeping changes” to his services.
“I’ve been serving the majority of my clients for six years, so I thought about the process of diversifying my service style,” Alan added.
“As my business delivers a daily feel-good factor, I offered my existing customers the opportunity to have their daily cup of coffee delivered direct to the front door of their homes.
“After a barrage of emails and text messages sent, the next day my phone was constantly ringing with requests to come to this street and that street, which was pleasing. And after a few days of this, I completely had my daily round back in full working order albeit in new surroundings.
“With the arrival of my van into residential streets, there was then lots of interest from neighbors of customers, which was even more pleasing as I saw these as extra opportunities to deliver my products to new customers.”
Alan received a staggering amount of support from communities in Cove, Portlethen, Stonehaven and Chapelton for continuing his services.
Alan said: “People kept telling me how great it was seeing a local business thrive in these times, and the continued message of “we will buy more local from now on” kept being reiterated to me on an hourly basis.
“By mid May my bookings were two weeks in advance and that was working 10 hours a day, seven days a week – to keep everyone caffeinated.
“Being a catering-based business my supply chain was slightly effected, so I decided to team up with another small business – Teacake in Chapelton – and purchase some products from them. This allowed their team to work longer hours and increase income, whilst being advertised to a new audience.
“Teacake has also since diversified its service and have now been working almost full-time since late April.
“The support I have received by local communities that I would generally not serve into has been overwhelming and very humbling.
“My business went into this pandemic in an alright situation but will leave it in a very healthy state, thanks to the support of local people working from home from all walks of life and all types of business.”
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Businesses across the region are continuing to adapt and diversify to remain open just like Cafe2U and Teacake. This is why the Evening Express, Press & Journal, Society and Original 106 are staging a social media “power hour”, in a bid to promote as much of these businesses as possible.
This will involve the four titles’ Twitter accounts retweeting every tweet from local businesses using the hashtag #northeastisopen between the one-hour time slot. Firms are encouraged to post a picture of themselves at their business holding up a sign which reads #northeastisopen.
Chief executive of VisitAberdeenshire, Chris Foy, said: “North-East Now will provide a window into VisitAberdeenshire’s upcoming campaign that will encourage the people of the north-east to rediscover Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire when restrictions are eased.
“The North-East Now initiative, and the social media Power Hour in particular, is an effective way of bringing businesses together as we ease out of lockdown.”