Rishi Sunak sees businesses prepare for economic bounceback

Rishi Sunak MP has visited two very different businesses in his constituency to see how they are recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Richmond MP called to speak to managers and staff at the Swaledale Cheese Company in Richmond and at Allerton Steel in Northallerton.

Both businesses have used the Government’s economic support measures to help them weather the worst of the crisis.

Allerton Steel furloughed a proportion of its staff through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme as construction activity came to a halt and Swaledale Cheese received a small business grant and also took advantage of a Bounceback Loan – a Government-backed loan which is fee-free and interest-free for 12 months – as orders for its artisan cheese slowed.

At Swaledale Cheese, Mr Sunak heard from production director Richard Darbishire about how he and his fellow owner had bought the company after it collapsed into liquidation last year and had resumed production successfully only for Coronavirus to strike.

Mr Darbishire said: “The timing of the pandemic could not have been worse but we have continued to trade, developing our online ordering business and we are in a good position to grow our markets through cheese wholesalers.

“The market for artisan cheese is strong and with the heritage of Swaledale cheese going back 1,000 years we think we are well placed to take advantage of that and also the growing interest in smaller producers like us.”

At Allerton Steel, Mr Sunak talked to director Andy Gatenby about the steel fabricator’s hopes for new business generated by forthcoming major infrastructure projects. The company is a specialist fabricator, undertaking the manufacture, welding and machining of heavy, complex and high integrity structural steelwork.

Mr Sunak said: “I was very impressed how these two, very different, enterprises have coped with the unprecedented circumstances we have been through and to hear how they intend to develop and grow their businesses.

“I was gratified to hear that the support measures the Government put him place helped them to retain jobs and production capacity ready for the nation’s economic recovery.”