At Up & Running we welcome 2021 with renewed enthusiasm and hope following the most challenging year.
January 2020 – It all started pretty well; Up & Running and a huge staff team made its annual pilgrimage to Birmingham for the National Running Show. A must-attend event for runners who want to be inspired by an impressive range of speakers, see new products being unveiled and have a chat to the experts about their training.
By February Covid was starting to make its presence felt, and upcoming races and events were starting to be postponed.
It was with a heavy heart in mid-March when the Prime Minster told us all to stay at home, that we had to put a stop to our much-loved weekly SRG runs. It really hurt, but we expected the pause to be for a few weeks, a couple of months at the most. SRG had been going from strength to strength with more and more runners joining us each week, in all locations across the country.
Social media was flooded with our devoted runners, wearing their SRG t-shirts with pride and continuing their runs on their own.
Very soon after we found ourselves in the unimaginable situation of having to close all our stores.
More and more people got the running bug
Everywhere you dared to go there were runners and cyclists. We were encouraged to strengthen our physical fitness and protect our mental health by running, walking and cycling. If there could be an upside to this pandemic it would be that a much stronger and fitter nation would emerge.
We ploughed on through April and May, serving all our customers and lots of new runners through our busy mail order department and eventually in June, we were relieved to re-open our shop doors.
Renovations were underway to create Covid-safe working spaces for our teams
We renovated a new office – creating a formidable space for our growing marketing team. Still in Harrogate the new space allows for more people to work in the office while maintaining social distancing.
Our old offices were also refitted at the same time, to create a covid-safe environment for the team who would continue to work there.
In preparation for the stores reopening, risk assessments were undertaken, cleaning products were despatched to stores, ppe for staff and customers was purchased, notices were printed and we excitedly yet cautiously reopened for business.
We learned to deal with customers safely, to sanitise shoes after they had been tried on, to clean down the treadmill after gait analysis, to wipe the pinpad after it had been used, to clean the door handles after each customer, but we were so happy to be open again and so happy to see all these new runners that lockdown had created with more people we could talk running to.
As the summer progressed and the rates started to drop, a sense of normality started to creep back in, but we maintained the same high standards of cleanliness and the same Covid-appropriate way of serving our customers.
We opened a new store!
In crazy times, we took the plunge and welcomed our new Reading store manager, Neringa and her team to the Up & Running family. With the store scheduled to open on 7th November and lockdown 2.0 due to begin at the same time, we pulled out all the stops to get the store open a few days earlier, managing 3 days of trade before we were struck down again.
Lockdown 2.0 shut us all down again in November. With our new website getting ready to launch the Head Office team were hard at work on this, while the shop staff on furlough continued to amass many more miles of running.
Even though our stores were closed in November, we persevered and brought you our fantastic Black Friday deals in a new, wholly digital format.
Eventually we got the fantastic news that we had won big at the National Running Awards, with two golds and a silver.
Looking back at 2020, you could say it’s the year we’d rather forget but being the positive-spirited company that we are, we look at the things we have managed to achieve:
• renovated 2 offices
• opened a new shop
• created a new workspace for our growing marketing team
• launched a new website
• invested in a new IT infrastructure to help us work more efficiently and co-ordinated
• won 2 gold and one silver industry awards
We look to 2021 with high expectation and to welcoming back our dedicated SRG runners setting the yellow train off once again.