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‘Never miss the opportunity to take a fresh look at how you do things’: How a South London business bounced back thanks to a positive attitude


African food store Eko is recovering fast thanks to their ingenuity in lockdown

Eko Food Market was just one business that was cooking on gas back in early 2020, as a leading UK manufacturer and supplier of deliciously authentic, high-quality chilled and frozen ethnic ready meals, ambient sauces and African dry foods.

Although the company’s investment plan to organise brand-new premises was back on track thanks to a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan from Lloyds Bank, their general operation certainly wasn’t immune to the disruption that was caused by the pandemic.

But as with most success stories, it was their positive attitude as a business that gave them the inspiration to see change as an opportunity to unlock something new.

What they did differently during lockdown

Using the challenge Covid-19 posed to think differently about the way they ran their business, they decided to take the joy they felt in the food they produced direct to their customers, in a way they never expected.

Restrictions meant that they could no longer outsource their usual produce from Nigeria, so instead they had to think of alternative sources, looking to import options closer to home.

Eko created special work from home and food packages for their customers in lockdown

They hired a saxophonist so they could surprise their customers at their front door with food and music on special occasions.

This was initially offered as a free service and has now turned into a revenue stream.

Rapid Covid-19 tests were taken prior to any visit so that no restrictions were broken, and food was packaged and presented in a way fit for the customer’s celebration.

They delivered food direct to customers, including ‘working from home’ packages that were specifically for people who didn’t have time to cook.

Looking forward

Looking back at the last 12 months, the business has grown in new and unexpected ways.

Despite the restrictions, they’ve actually been busier than ever and are gearing up for the opening of their new premises this summer.

Delays in the refurbishment have been difficult to manage, but they’re on track to reopen and have already taken on a number of bookings for weddings and other celebrations.

With the mantra of putting every moment you have to good use, the new revenue streams, born out of necessity to keep the business going, are set to continue as a permanent feature, with a push to grow both their delivery service and saxophone-inspired celebrations service.

Great news for them – and for customers expecting a doorstep celebration.

How can my business get involed?

It’s stories like this one that are the driving force behind the steady recovery of Britain post-Covid, with displays of uncapped resilience and innovation.

These are the traits that the judges at the Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Awards are looking for, and businesses that can show a keen ability to adapt and overcome in the face of hardship are the ones that will be shortlisted.

Submissions for the awards are open now, and with 12 categories to choose from, celebrating a range of business achievements, there is an award for companies of all shapes and sizes.

Visit the website to find out more and submit your entry today.

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Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.

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