Heywood-based Vision Commercial Kitchens just sneaks into the top 10 kitchen design rankings this time, generating £9.7m revenue in the 12 months to 30 September 2020, though this represents a 16% cut from the previous year’s £11.5m. Operating profit slid too, by 49%, from £543k to £278k.
But the distributor’s MD, Jack Sharkey believes that the true reflection of this tumultuous year is more than just a number in the accounts. He revealed: “We had started the year well; our half year results were ahead of forecast and we actually projected to have our best year ever until the pandemic struck during March 2020, resulting in delayed and postponed contracts, delays and postponements in some cases of 12 months.”
He detailed: “At the start of the pandemic, cash flow and protecting cash flow was the number one priority for a lot of our clients, but cash flow was and is just as important to us and our supply chain partners. So we worked with the clients and the supply chain to find solutions that would work for everyone. In some cases it was a case of finding funding solutions, others it was about more innovative solutions, like vesting stock to the supply partner until such time as the project came back online – for other clients it was about payment plans. I think the best way to describe it was good communication up and down the supply chain and having a good open, honest dialogue to find solutions with the client and the supply partner.”
Sharkey cites his workforce as being the lynchpin for maintaining the business: “The last 12 months are really a testament to the team. Having a good team around you makes it so much easier to do the job, even in the most difficult of times. The last year has probably been the toughest on record and without the team ethos it would have been really hard. It’s because of that team ethos we took the decision to top up salaries to 100% to those that were furloughed during the first lockdown to reward them for their loyalty and support.”
Vision’s experiences during this time have not only shown up the importance of that team ethos, they have brought operational adjustments. Sharkey revealed: “The last year or so has changed some things forever and made elements of working much more efficient, like working from home, conducting meetings online rather than in person, so in some ways there have been some cultural shifts in the wider business environment.”
Vision MD Jack Sharkey praised his firm’s supply chain, saying: “I am lucky enough to have a good relationships at senior level with every single one of our supply partners. I think the last 12 months during the pandemic have really highlighted the importance of those relationships – every single one of them without exception have been amazing to work with and I think it has made those relationships even stronger, not just with me but my whole team. I think it has instilled a lot of loyalty both ways.”