Midwich boss praises firm's resilience during pandemic
The boss of Diss’ largest employer has praised the company for managing to mitigate the damage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Midwich CEO Stephen Fenby said that trading at the specialist AV distributor “had not been as bad as it could have been” – after their bi-annual interim results revealed that the company had seen growth drop by only four per cent on last year.
While the pandemic has crippled many industries across the UK, Midwich still managed to turnover £302 million during the first half of this year – £12.8 million down from the same period last year.
“Our trading hasn’t been as bad as I feared it could have been,” said Mr Fenby.
“In the first quarter of this year, there wasn’t much impact from the crisis.”
The company employs around 800 staff across the UK, Ireland, Europe and Australasia, supplying audio and visual equipment to commercial premises across the globe.
Mr Fenby added: “The worst part was in April when there was a lot of countries in lockdown.
“When countries go into lockdown, it’s very difficult for people to go in and install equipment.
“The UK was probably amongst the worst affected – we have a very big business in the UK and a big share of the market here, and the UK economy has struggled to bounce back from the pandemic.”
In terms of gross profit, the company made £43.8 million – down 16 per cent from last year, while adjusted profit after tax was down by 77 per cent to £2.4 million.
Of the company’s 800 staff, around 270 are based in its Diss head office – an undisclosed number of whom were laid off as a result of the pandemic.
Mr Fenby, however, insisted that there were no further redundancies scheduled.
“We have made a few redundancies, but it’s not many; a few in Diss and a few in other offices,” he said.
“It was the minimum number we could and we have normally had some turnover in our staff, so we have probably lost fewer than we would have previously.
“We have no plans to do any more, but it is unfortunate.”
Mr Fenby added that the company is in a strong position going forward – promising to bring back some of the 80 per cent of staff who are still working from home within the next month.
“We are in a good place in the business, and we are well placed for the future,” said Mr Fenby.
“In recent weeks, while we continue to monitor the pandemic, we have increasingly shifted our focus to the future – bringing back our teams, reopening offices and resuming some face-to-face customer interactions.
“Most people are working from home, and the technology has worked brilliantly for us, allowing us to carry on doing most of our day-to-day work.
“We are going to [bring people back to the office] when it’s safe to do so. We would like to carry on getting more and more people back in, and I think we can get a decent amount back during the next month or so.”