Silver lining on recession cloud

LOOKING for positives in the current recession can prove a difficult task but it’s not all bad news!

The media so often come under fire for highlighting the misery our economy has caused. In an effort to bring balance to this accusation we’ve been looking at some businesses in our locality that have not only managed to survive the present economic downturn but who have a success story to tell.

Local mechanic Martin Forsythe would be one of those people. He and his brother Keith set up business as MMK Autos on the Ballydown Road about 14 years ago. Over this period they worked to build up a regular customer base but the last 18 months have seen an unprecedented growth in business. With seven new customers appearing in one week and a work shedule that is fully booked until after the Easter period the brothers have found themselves inundated. They have even had to take measures by employing a new full-time member of staff.

Martin attributes this success to several reasons. When the economy is down people tend to put off making larger investments such as a new car and so upkeep of a vehicle becomes necessary.

Martin also feels people are turning to smaller garages which offer better value for money as they can provide a professional service at a better rate.

The brothers are hoping to expand the business in the near future.

Richard Clements is proprietor of Zucca the Italian sit-in and take-away restaurant in Dromore. He took over the business in 2008 just as the recession was beginning to take hold. Setting up in such uncertain times was a risk, but as Richard claims “the restaurant has stood the test of time”.

The proud owner says the business has developed figures showing it going from strength to strength, the mainstay of sales coming from the take-away side of things.

The reason for this growth Richard believes, lies in the fact people are trying to make their money stretch further - instead of dining out in some of Belfast’s more exclusive restaurants they now have to settle for things more basic such as a take-away pizza.

When a business faces decline they immediately look for new ways to grow. Local business woman Nicki Bury is founder and managing director of a firm that helps small businesses to do just that.

Haybury Marketing Ltd, was established in 2004 and works with clients to help them achieve growth through marketing strategies. Nicki says she’s never been busier.

“In general business owners are always looking for ways to grow but when a company is physically hit and faces massive decline they turn to us for professional advice on new ways to make progress and achieve goals”.

Nicky, who is also branch chairwoman of the Federation of small businesses, says there are lots of companies making good progress in the current climate by investing in new areas.

She also puts up an argument that recession has its benefits for it stretches businesses making them listen to their customers, establish what it is they really want and fight to hold onto them.

A recession also teaches us to be more creative and resourceful and perhaps our next generation will be one of innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs.