Devon Life Business & Professional - SILLY SEASONS, our seasonal review

PUBLISHED: 16:49 24 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:55 20 February 2013

Christine Megson, Business & Professional Editor

Christine Megson, Business & Professional Editor

Businesses in the region have battled their way through a cool wet June, July deluges and an uncertain August making conditions for traditional seasonal activities challenging, to say least - writes Christine Megson, Business & Professional Editor

Every Cloud has a silver lining...


Businesses in the region have battled their way through a cool wet June, July deluges and an uncertain August making conditions for traditional seasonal activities challenging, to say least. Being a resilient lot though, there is evidence that many of our local companies have used the opportunity to go over their business models and adapt.

Tim Jones of the Devon & Cornwall Business Council believes that the weather may even have been good for the region.
One of the biggest winners this year has been added value. Traders had to work harder than ever to attract customers so they raised their game in terms of service and value. Our local businesses have been incredibly creative and as a result the Wesctcountry now offers a very competitive deal, making the overseas alternatives seem over-priced. Weather cycles change but we remain a top holiday destination. I dont believe in the knock-on effect either, the off-season holiday trade is strong and often benefits from warm autumns which can only be good for the local economy.

Chris Murray, Chairman of the Management and Marketing Committee of the Devon Association of Tourist Attractions agrees.
Attractions are meant to attract, whatever the weather and tourism providers are putting more money into marketing and advertising to make that happen At his award winning Pennywell Farm he has learned from experience that a little goodwill goes a long way.
We again offered a wet weather return during the summer, allowing visitors to come back free within seven days if it rained during their visit. Its a small gesture but one that makes customers feel confident and it is always very much appreciated.

Although the outlook has been bleak, the unseasonal summer weather may still pay dividends in the long term. Diversification is key and learning to adjust to whatever nature throws at us could be the secret to a brighter outlook.

SHORT STRAW - You know its summer when you see the regions thatchers up on country roofs. This year, a once idyllic rural trade has become more of a battle of wits. According to Sidmouth thatcher Mark Turbitt Its been miserable. On a wet day I can stay inside and make the wooden pegs I need, but you really need to get up there and the reed can only be laid in the dry . Many are still catching up on the summer backlog because of the constant weather interruptions. Thatching is a competitive market, but even keen pricing hasnt managed to persuade customers to keep up essential maintenance. Many of those who put it off during the lean years have suffered particularly badly from this years record wind and rainfall. But, The Master Thatchers Association remains upbeat with the hope that a late summer and a mild winter will help its members recoup their summer losses.

GOT IT COVERED Youd think that marquees would be the ideal business to be in over a wet summer, but the tent people too have had problems. The weather has made each job more difficult, with more manpower needed to carry equipment over fields and lawns too soggy for lorries. Fiona Lyon-Smith from the Devon Marquee Company said We were fully booked for the summer and the season was looking good, but profits have been badly affected. Weve had a lot more costs including a big bill for damage after the strong winds. On the upside, weve got lots of grateful customers, because we pulled out all the stops to keep them dry.

GROWING BUSINESS - Tree surgeons, normally quiet in the summer months found themselves in demand. The rain boosted growing to such an extent that gardeners struggled to keep grass and plants under control and chainsaws were buzzing as high winds and storms weakened and damaged trees. All extra work for East Devon Tree Surgeon, Tom Clarke. Everything grew twice as fast because of the rain so the summer was very busy this year. During the floods crews were out all day sorting out damage and making safe and hedgerows were cut early because visibility became a problem in some of the lanes.

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