May 23, 2024

James McGoldrick: Agility is a must-have trait for SME’s

Bradfords Bakers managing director James McGoldrick comments on the quality that is vital for SME’s to have, noting that a nimble small company can out-manoeuvre business giants.

2020 has thrown a lot at everyone – regardless of where they come from, people everywhere have felt the effects of the pandemic, and those in the EU and UK have also experienced the ramifications of Brexit.

Small businesses faced difficulties in preparing for Brexit, and of course no one was able to predict a global pandemic sweeping all of us off our feet.

But Bradfords Bakers has done its best to rise to challenges presented not just last year, but through its whole tenure as a company. That success and survival is credited to the agility that we strive to possess.

Agility is the ability to move quickly and easily; as our circumstances change, as they often do, we are sure that we can move past hurdles and thrive despite hardships coming our way.

Adapting to changing circumstances

The small business once operated through bricks-and-mortar stores in and around Glasgow and added an online branch for customers to use in 2006. This meant that we could start servicing consumers all over the UK, and beyond to the EU, USA, and China.

In 2013, we were forced to adapt after 2008’s banking crisis caused the closures of our retail stores.

I found one industrial property near Glasgow and the bakery operates completely within it, with a fulltime staff of twelve, taking orders from our website and delivering gifts all over the UK.

Our small team is committed, trusting of one another, and most importantly nimble; they are able to work to tight deadlines, fill in for each other when the need arises, and can meet unique customer specifications.

Facing the pandemic nimbly

At the start of 2020, the Bradfords Bakers team was made up of just six people. COVID-19 and lockdowns dramatically heightened the need for Bradfords Bakers’ services, as more people needed gifts that could be delivered directly to their recipient quickly.

We felt the need to bring on more staff to meet the increased number of orders being received, and I was happy to do so, as I recognise that the pandemic had meant that difficulties in finding jobs and redundancies.

Since lockdowns rolled out nationwide, Bradfords Bakers has seen 350% growth. This absolutely has to do with how much focus we put on being a nimble company that can meet new needs when they arise.

Challenges brought on by Brexit

We have met further challenges in the past year because of Brexit, too. Bradfords Bakers utilises the services of suppliers based in Italy and Germany, who have faced new obstacles of their own in getting the goods to their customers like McGoldrick.

There are suppliers in the EU who regularly deliver worldwide, to the USA and China, for example, so they are familiar with all of the rules and regulations in shipping worldwide. When the UK left the EU, these suppliers shipped their goods to Britain the way they would to the US.

Our suppliers, however, only work with customers in the EU and UK, so they have no standard protocol for delivering to countries outside of the UK. This has caused Bradfords Bakers delays in receiving products like the packaging we need for the safe delivery of our gifts to customers.

Our suppliers are facing new regulations and requirements so that they can continue to export their products which has in turn impacted us – this is a challenge we weren’t expecting to face, but we once again exercise agility to overcome.

We have secured packaging from local UK suppliers – this has been more costly than what the bakery is used to, but it has ensured that customers have received a good level of delivery quality. It’s not an ideal solution, but it’s one that ensures that our company keeps on moving and meeting our customers needs.

As a small e-commerce company, we find that we can naturally be very nimble in a way that other industry giants cannot be, and we find this to be extremely advantageous. We can move quickly in the face of adversity, overhauling our whole business model when the need arises if it means the continuation of our business.

Agility is a vital quality for any small business who wants to get ahead of its competitors, especially now as each month seems to bring a new challenge with it. We’ll be facing changes soon as vaccinations continue to roll out and restrictions are eased, but we’re observant of trends and feel prepared to jump over each new hurdle as it comes.