A long-established Fife business says the massive impact of coronavirus has been heartbreaking for small firms.
Director of Jannettas Gelateria of St Andrews, Nicola Hazel, identified Covid-19 as the biggest challenge facing her firm.
She said: “Already we’ve seen businesses we supply having to close their doors.
“It’s heartbreaking – particularly for those small firms who have poured blood, sweat and tears into their business to make it a success. It’s a waiting game and a very difficult time.
“Things keep changing on an almost hourly and daily basis and we’re having to very much react to those changes.
“It’s an extremely difficult time, particularly with the halt to social gatherings and people self-isolating and whilst we understand this for the health and wellbeing of our country, it has had a significant impact on our business.”
The number of people normally employed at Jannettas varies during the year – anything from more than 80 to just over 30, however as footfall dropped, the firm had to reduce staffing levels.
Ms Hazel said the firm was diversifying into offering a free home-delivery service and setting up a community hub in its café for people in the area to purchase local produce and was already working with local suppliers including artisan baker Barnett’s and Pittormie farm.
“We all need to be looking after each other and supporting one and other in times of need – and this is most certainly an exceptional time of need,” she added.
Jannettas Gelateria was founded by Ms Hazel’s grandparents, who originally hailed from Monte Cassino in Italy and 112 years later remains in family hands, with plans to grow the business further.
Last month, Jannettas said it was looking to take on a waterfront site in Dundee – the vacant Slessor Gardens pavilion cafe.
Ms Hazel said: “Jannettas is keen to expand. Every business needs to be looking into the future and looking at potential opportunities.
“Obviously with the current economic state, we would be foolish to be looking too far ahead.
“Our main priority is to get the business and our team through this difficult period and then we hope to enjoy another busy summer season, I think it’s important to try and remain positive.”
Ms Hazel said one of the contributing factors to the company’s longevity is that each generation had recognised the need to continuously evolve and change to meet the changing market as well as the needs of the customer – along with a great deal of hard work.
Being a business owner has pluses and minuses she said.
“Control is a definite advantage, you are your own boss and have the ability to control and manage change as well as the opportunity for flexibility.
“But of course there are some disadvantages too.
“You are effectively on call 24/7 and if anyone goes off sick at short notice I’m generally the one to have to pick up the pieces. Sometimes it can also be hard to switch off. It’s our ‘baby’ and naturally you want to nurture it and ensure it continues to thrive.”
Ms Hazel has been involved in the business for many years and took charge in 1992.