There’s a famous quote from Gerald Durrell about the natural world being as complicated and delicate as a spider’s web, with mankind currently tearing great holes in it.
I’m sure to some, making any sort of link between the finely woven intricacies of nature, and Jersey’s economy, would be anathema. But stick with it. Often commercial success in Jersey turns on a narrow balance of resources (staff), revenue (customers & costs) and regulation (the bureaucratic framework which can either help or hinder).
Change any one of those, and the business will stumble – with its owners or directors needing to quickly bring it back into balance. If they can’t (in time), or don’t have the confidence, then it fails.
Of course, the ongoing pandemic ripped holes in all three, all at the same time, which is why it was (is) such a perfect storm. The government helped where it could, recognising that the actions it believed it needed to take (deep restrictions on trade) were what was, in many cases, doing the ripping.
That has eased, mostly. But following a period of deep instability, when cash reserves are now low, businesses have to cope with the aftershocks of rising prices, low consumer confidence and a lack of staff – all when the ‘web’ is already in tatters.
Only a fool would ask why all that matters, as if one business goes under, another will soon replace it – that’s the beauty of competition! Such a misguided view ignores the fundamental reality of Jersey’s economy, which is essentially that it is, a very delicate web of inter-dependencies.
Failure of one part will lead to failure in another part – the most obvious, and blunt, example is the clear connections between financial services and hospitality. You try attracting the best international lawyers or fund managers to work in Jersey, without also providing the best restaurants, transport connections, recreational activities, housing and personal services. Good luck with that.
If a bin cleaning company goes under, that affects the restaurants it serves, who may then have to cut back on opening hours, which may then affect food supply businesses, events companies, taxi firms and freight costs. Pull all those strands of the web at the same time, and the vibrations multiply outwards until suddenly there are failures. Create enough of those, and the island is – almost before you know it – a little less attractive place to do business. And that leads to bigger failures in the highly competitive world of international finance.
If you still don’t believe me, how much reduction in air links would we need to see, before we would also see an effect on companies or individuals wanting to base either themselves or their assets here?
As well as Jersey’s business community being a tightly woven web of personalities, confidences, perceptions and relationships, it is also a web of cause and effect.
To pick the business buzzwords of the moment, it cannot truly be ‘segmented’ into ‘verticals;’ the onslaught on resourcing, revenue and regulation is all coming concurrently, and it is cutting across multiple strands in the economy.
Connect will keep trying to pull those strands back together.