A cleaning and facilities management company which faced a catastrophic loss of business as the lockdown hit was able to reverse its fortunes through a bold combination of investment and innovation.
Fox Group acted quickly to source the revolutionary antibacterial fogging treatment which was used in London to keep the underground running for essential workers.
Managing Director Andrew Fox added it to the company’s range of services and provided a lifeline for businesses including The Westwood Restaurant, one of the most popular in the region.
As word spread about the availability and effectiveness of the treatment, Fox Group received more requests for demonstrations with the knock-on effect of picking up new clients for its traditional services.
Andrew’s first steps in the industry were on a ladder as a teenage window cleaner. He built the business and broadened the base to include contract window cleaning, facilities management, maintenance and decorating. He is also a director of Cleansure, a commercial cleaning company which also comprises a software business.
Fox employs around 120 people with key clients working in food production and processing and major food distribution and retail. The group also cleans sport and business venues, apartments, office blocks and restaurants, working directly for clients and through property agents.
Covid-19 affected the window cleaning work because of building closures and the maintenance side because of difficulties in sourcing supplies, but Andrew moved quickly to fill the gaps.
He said: “We went down to about 25 per cent of turnover. The work was drying up on the contract cleaning side with clients closing their premises and on the maintenance side because there were difficulties getting the supplies we needed, which was a factor in many business sectors. Some deliveries which are normally next-day ended up taking six weeks.”
The business furloughed some staff and kept others on for reactive work and maintenance including decorating at some of the empty buildings, but the fogging treatment added a new dimension.
Andrew said: “We approached clients and looked at the sort of jobs we could do when they were not there to help them prepare for reopening. The new treatment gave us the ability to spray and treat hundreds of square metres per hour.”
The company’s teams got to work in offices, factories and NHS sites conducting deep cleans and providing reactive services after cases of Covid-19 were reported.
Management at The Westwood introduced their own measures to ensure the safety of diners and the Fox Group provided the vital finishing touch.
Andrew said: “The fogging machine treated every surface from floor to ceiling, reaching every corner with a chemical which is certified as effective against Covid-19. Our operatives also wiped all the touch surfaces including door handles, light switches, lift buttons, anything that someone uses as a touch point. We moved in as soon as they were able to open and did everything we could to help them meet the standards set by the government.”
With One Humber Quays and Freedom Quay already among its portfolio, Fox Group added some work for the managing agents for Two Humber Quays and secured new contracts there and at St Andrew’s Retail Park in Hessle Road, where tenants include Greggs, Iceland, Poundland and B&M.
The company has completed upgrades including replacing the CCTV across the site, gutter cleaning, ground works and line painting in the car park as well as installing hand sanitisers and signage for social distancing and a one-way system.
Andrew said: “The new projects have gone very well and we have now been asked by a major employer to apply the fogging treatment to their offices as they bring back more staff and we’ve also been brought in by a well-established gym.
“The difficulties we experienced with some of our suppliers have reinforced our approach of ensuring we are available to deal with any issues facing our clients. That has helped us build our network of contacts and we’re confident demand will increase as more companies draw up their plans to return to work safely.”