The thought of lockdown round two will have given many partners flashbacks of the difficult economic conditions experienced during the spring and summer of 2020. However, from recent surveys there are strong indications that there is much more market optimism than most might think.
Maintaining high levels of client service during a pandemic when your entire employee base is working remotely may have filled most partners and professional service firms with dread 12 months ago. But fast forward several months and this thinking has certainly changed.
Towards the back end of 2019 and as we entered 2020, the majority of UK manpower and recruitment (“MPR”) businesses were firmly focussed on ensuring their business models were Brexit ready. However, as 2020 unfolded, and the impact of COVID-19 shook the global economy, attention quickly turned to resilience, cash flow management and damage limitation to ensure survival and for businesses to come out of the other side of the pandemic.
Although not directly impacted in the same way as businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality industries, the legal sector has found that Covid-19 has triggered challenging market conditions. A recent survey suggests that revenues in the first quarter of 2020 are down over 6% on the last quarter of 2019, and are at the lowest level in four years. There are some more obvious reasons for the downturn such as the closure of courts and land registry but the demand for other legal services, especially around transaction support, are also suffering a dip as projects and commercial transactions are put on hold or abandoned altogether due to the current financial climate.
On the backdrop of the recent political and economic uncertainty and the numerous headlines that these have brought, one market sector that has seen an uptick has been the Scottish recruitment market as companies across a range of sectors seek to hire temporary staff to cover current demand and/or increase the recruitment of specialist project expertise.