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Yes, Salisbury is open for business – and it offers lesson to us all

The recent shocking and unprecedented poisoning incident in Salisbury, is testament to the fact that crisis situations can happen anywhere and at any time and can have a devastating impact on the local business community.  

No-one could have anticipated such an incident would happen in Salisbury but the challenges that this crisis presents to businesses are something that all business owners need to consider.  For example, although completely different in their nature, the Somerset floods of 2014 also produced similar problems for the business community.  

FSB research in 2015 into business resilience showed that crisis situations can have a ripple effect across the whole economy.  The FSB Report ‘Severe Weather’ stated: “Two thirds of businesses have been negatively affected by severe weather in the last three years.  Disruption to people (customers and staff) and logistics (supply chain, utilities and transport) are the most frequently occurring problems.  Only 25 per cent of microbusinesses have a resilience plan in place that includes crisis situations”. 

I have run accommodation businesses in Salisbury for many years, and have noticed like the rest of the business community that visitor numbers have dropped significantly, since the attack.  Of course, this has a knock-on effect across the whole local economy and supply chain.  Unfortunately, global media interest in a crisis situation (particularly one with far reaching international political implications) damages peoples’ perceptions of a place and results in people staying away.  This translates to a drop in footfall and ultimately a drop in sales, hitting cash flow and the bottom line for many businesses.

Salisbury has now been declared ‘safe’ outside of the cordoned off areas.  The cordoned areas don’t have any detrimental implications for public health, but are part of the investigation.  Speaking as a voice representing Salisbury businesses I say: ‘please don’t stay away’!

Tim Lazenby is Sales Director at FSB’s Insurance Service, which as well as providing insurance services and advice to members, provides resources to help small business owners make business continuity plans.  Tim’s advice to business owners is simple -  “make a contingency plan.”  

He says: “Any business could face an unexpected, significant event that has the potential to put them out of business. By putting together a plan you are ensuring that should the worst happen, you know exactly who is responsible for what and there is no panic as to how you will cope. Business owners need to plan for the threats and risks their company faces, and implement safeguards to protect the business in case of disaster.  What does your business rely on to operate?  If one of the key components is taken away, is there another way that the business can continue and thrive?”

So, please, think about putting together a continuity plan for your business.  

Finally, I would like to leave you with a simple message: Salisbury is safe and its shops, restaurants and beautiful sites remain open for business.  We need the support of our neighbours across the South West so please keep visiting us in Salisbury.”