This article forms part of a series of reports which accompanies the 2020-21 BF Annual Report.
Entering 2020-21 our commercial objectives required necessary adjustment in light of the impact of the pandemic.
Diversify -> Maintain BF Portfolio of Partners
During 2020-21, BF’s portfolio of commercial partners has been maintained at 13. At the end of the financial year, formal relationships were in place with twelve partners, a decrease of one from 2019-20.
Our primary commercial offerings in the partnership space are delivered through our Licensed Partner Programme (LPP). Additionally, we have several bespoke official partner agreements which cover elements including sponsorship (e.g. Wilkinson Sword) and Value in Kind agreements such as Pulseroll Ltd (fitness/training products) and Woods Fleet (collaboration on corporate products and offer of hospitality services to BF).
As of April 2021, there were six organisations in the LPP, a decrease of two from April 2020. Crown Hills Community College is in year two of a five-year partnership, and Ludosport UK is in the second year of a three-year partnership, both as Official Training Partners.
More focus and energy in 2020-21 to develop our communications for the education market has proven beneficial and teachers have been receptive to our more direct offering into schools. We have also garnered international interest during this period and as travel opens up in 2021-22 we will be further exploring opportunities to export our services and products internationally.
Mini Case Study: Despite social distancing restrictions and three national lockdowns that severely affected school operations, we were able to still activate a campaign to raise awareness with Crown Hills Community College. TeamGB approved the use of their logo and trademark for a one-of-a-kind sticker piste concept that was developed to be a stand out space in the school. The piste, which was installed and launched with a visit from athlete Yasmin Campbell, raised awareness of the opportunity for 1,400 pupils to try fencing. Every time pupils walk through the space they are encouraged to lunge across the 12m long piste, increasing their activity. Alternatively, as they gaze down they are inspired as they learn more about the sport of fencing.
Strengthen -> Expand our portfolio of offerings
In response to the pandemic, we focused efforts on expanding BF’s educational offerings into new online offerings, supported by grant funding. The Explore Fencing short course aimed at teachers brought us to new audiences who have shown a high interest in fencing. Following up with these contacts will be a focus for 2021-22.
A free 15-page Explore Fencing brochure has been developed, intended to be used alongside the training and BF’s free ‘Explore Fencing’ App (found on iOS and Google Play stores).
The brochure contains tips and ideas to introduce fencing as well as further information on what path they could formally take to upskill themselves individually or as a school staff team.
As a direct result of the impact of Covid on face to face delivery:
Throughout 2020-21 the interest in the Primary School Resource Pack (PSRP) remained positive. The PSRP is a personal development programme that schools are taking interest in and BF have generated c.150 new enquiries to follow up on in 2021-22.
MiniCase Study: a former and a new customer were the first two organisations to run the Online Core Coach for the first time. The former customer started their training as soon as the course was launched on 30th October.BF supported 11 candidates through the online modules and the face-to-face assessment on 26th November. The course took place in Scotland, where local restrictions at the time allowed this course to go ahead. The engagement of all parties involved was key to the success of this course, as the development of new restrictions only a few weeks later would prove this was a unique window of opportunity. In February 2021, an activity centre in the South East of England started the Core Coach course, organising internal training days and adapting their pace whilst waiting for the easing of restrictions to start their fencing programme. The group stood out for their enthusiasm and appreciation for the flexible approach to learning, ideal for accommodating their part and full time staff.
Sustain -> Minimise losses in 2020-21, prepare for 2021-22
The investment in expanding the supporting materials has impacted growth in net surplus with over 10% of surplus generated by new online products that are now available. In 2020-21 revenue was significantly impacted reducing from £133K to £28,716 a decrease of 78.4%.
2020-21 has proved to show growing interest in our offering and notably international interest from USA, India, Italy and China. The UK pipeline of activity remains on the increase and 2021-22 looks positive if restrictions continue to be eased and there are no further national lockdowns.
In the last annual report, it was noted that “…the full effect is unknown…” but 12 months on it is clear that Covid-19 has affected our traditional educational delivery and paused our ambitions for growing our LPP network.
As online education expands, the Commercial department will be working more closely across other areas of BF to identify opportunities to develop commercial offerings to wider domestic and international audiences. Key for the year ahead is the aim to sustain (and deliver upon) the interest from the educational establishments in the UK and abroad. Our commercial objectives for 2021-22 are:
The full Directors’ Report can be found here.
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