Expanding a business into a recession – Best business decision case study

With the recession at its height in 2008, Steven Hancock, managing director of hospitality provider The Zest Group, decided to embrace the downturn and tackle it head-on.

For Zest Group, 2008 was a pivotal year. With the recession in full-swing, many businesses reigned in spending on corporate events for product launches or gala dinners.

At the time, a large majority of our income depended on corporate event hospitality management and catering, but when the recession hit, additional areas for penetration had to be identified.

Despite times being tough, couples still wanted to be married, and be married quickly. Our lead times shifted from an average of 12-18 months planning to 6-12 months, reflecting the loom of uncertainty upon clients as a whole.

The wedding industry remained relatively unscathed and upon identifying this, our strategy shifted to target the weddings and private event market, until signs of an economic recovery improved.

Starting life as Zest Caterers, this shift led to the business growing into The Zest Group. As a group, of different business areas, we were able to offer catering, venues and event equipment hire as well as presenting a greater service to existing corporate clients and appealing to a whole new market in weddings and private events.

In doing so, our revenue increased year-on-year and we began to see a recuperation of the income from corporate events as time went on.

One of the most important elements for Zest was to maintain the high-standard of product and service that we offered. Many businesses can be seen throughout the recession in taking steps to decrease quality as a way of saving costs.

Our strategy of identifying new markets to penetrate allowed the business to maintain the quality of offering whilst still safeguarding our future by operating in multiple markets.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but an essential one. At the time the business was only four years old and we were beginning to establish a name for ourselves as a quality hospitality provider.

The decision paid off and the growth culminated in increased lead generation, a larger base of clients and higher levels of recruitment. This sent a clear message to key stakeholders such as prospective clients and competitors that Zest was a robust and versatile business.

Moving forward four years and we are now operating successfully and growing ahead of our business plan with the company in a healthier and stronger position than ever before.

Other Best Business Decisions by Entrepreneurs:

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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