Chairman of LB First reflects on pandemic one year on in Leighton-Linslade
The chairman of LB First reflected on the impact of the pandemic on the one-year anniversary of the UK’s first national lockdown.
Gennaro Borrelli who owns Gennaro Organic Hair and Beauty, is feeling positive about the road ahead, as he praises the town’s entrepreneurs for their determination to succeed.
On the eve of March 23, Gennaro told the LBO: “Obviously it’s been an extremely difficult year for so many people on so many different levels, and for many businesses - particularly small, independent businesses - it’s been a really tough time. The good thing has been that lots of the small businesses have been great at adapting and offering services, such as online shopping and click and collect.
"They have adapted where possible and found a way to keep going."
He added: “We have found that particularly in Leighton Buzzard the community support has been amazing, and lots of people have got behind small, independent businesses and the market.”
Gennaro hopes that once the lockdown has passed people will enjoy coming into town to visit its restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, barbers and non-essential retail shops, believing that the commuters who now work from home can discover what the High Street has to offer.
He also paid thanks to Leighton-Linslade Town Council, which provided a grant that helped LB First to launch the website 'Shop Local in Leighton Buzzard'.
The site acts a business directory and also details information about the services which companies are providing during lockdown.
Gennaro told the LBO: "I'm pretty sure that once the lockdown lifts there will be a huge desire from people locally who want to come back into town, and who have been missing things that they haven't been able to do since they've been stuck at home - meeting up with a friend for a coffee, going into a shop, going for lunch, or going to a bar and listening to live music.
"Businesses have invested time, money and effort into making sure their premises are Covid-safe and all these measures will still be in place when we return.They have really been bending over backwards to make sure that people feel welcome and safe."
Meanwhile, the chairman of LB First noted that although Leighton Buzzard had lost M&Co and Clarks during the pandemic, the town had welcomed new businesses to the centre, including Cittadina Coffee Shop, Allen's E-Bikes, and two new barbers.
Gennaro added: "Thank you to the emergency services, to all the volunteer groups who have helped out, and to the local authorities.
"We are also really fortunate that Leighton-Linslade has had wonderful community support.
"I'm quite optimistic in the sense that I just hope we can keep this going and that people realise the importance of local businesses. Hopefully we can put the local economy on a strong a stable footing."