Timpson boss: Businesses need to know what the new normal is

24 June 2021, 08:44

By Will Taylor

The owner of high street chain Timpson has said a true picture of the economy cannot emerge until businesses know exactly what the "new normal" is.

Sir John Timpson told Nick Ferrari on LBC that he believes the economy is doing well but that only applies in "patches", with some sectors still unable to fully reopen.

His famous shoe repair and key cutting business is among the high street retailers looking to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.

He told Nick: "It (the economy) is doing well but it's in patches. If you were to talk to someone who is doing exhibitions or in the conference game, they're having a rubbish time.

"And for them to hear the economy is great, they'd think "what about me?"

Read more: UK economy growth continues as lockdown measures ease

Read more: 'Now or never for summer travel': Tourism industry demands help for 'decimated' sector

"You hear a lot about the travel industry and theatres and nightclubs and so on.

"So it's doing very well in some bits but not very well in others.

"We don't know exactly what the economy is going to be like until we find out what the new normal is, and we've been talking about the new normal for over a year. We've got no idea what it's going to be yet."

It is still unclear what the long term prospects are for some anti-Covid interventions that reshaped lives and put some businesses into stasis.

Read more: What will life be like after July 19? Whitehall leak reveals plans for ‘New Normal’

Although the UK has reopened alongside its fast-moving vaccine scheme, and July 19 has been proposed for the next stage of reopening, there have been warnings that some measures, such as using face coverings in certain situations, may need to remain for now.

A right to hybrid working between the office and home has also reportedly been considered.

However, the Government has said it was to remove all legal restrictions on social contact next month.

It is also unclear when travel and tourism can make a full return, given fears about the spread of new variants and the different levels of vaccinations across countries.

Sir John added that when the outbreak hit, he found his shops – more than 2,000 of them – had to shut their doors and turnover collapsed from £6 million a week "to zero".

Employees were put on furlough, a scheme Sir John said was ideal for the time.

But he worries an unemployment problem could "surface" when the scheme comes to an end.