Businesses to run in a recession

1 CruisesWhile airlines go bust left, right and centre, this travel sector has been growing more than ten per cent year-on-year, despite the downturn. More than 1.5 million Brits took a cruise holiday in 2008, up 13 per cent on 2007. James Cole founded his cruise agency, Cruise118, with Mal Barritt in July last year. Within six weeks, they’d made their first million. “Cruise holidays are popular in a recession because of their all-inclusive nature,” he says. “Usually, all you pay for is your drinks, so it’s good value for money. But we’ve also seen a boom in luxury six-star cruises. There’s something to suit everyone’s pocket in this sector.”

2 Discount retailingOne niche that flourishes in good times and bad is the discounting market. Alan Saywell is CEO of Rowan International, a £41m-turnover firm selling residual grocery products for the likes of Unilever and PepsiCo. “In boom times, manufacturers try out new product lines and are aggressive with targets, creating a lot of business for us. In recession, these firms look at their stock and empty their warehouses, which also generates huge opportunities.” Saywell’s firm has seen 16 per cent revenue growth in the first quarter of 2009. “We’ll make £50m this year,” he says.

3 Anti-terrorist productsMarvin Zonis, professor emeritus of business from the University of Chicago, released his annual business forecast in January. He predicted that terrorism would be rife this year and next. “After Mumbai, we know that terrorism is alive and will be well in 2009,” he says. “It has globalised and become a distributed phenomenon.” Companies who can counter this threat will flourish. Take Alumet (see page 55), which secured £6.2m from the MoD last year to design, fabricate and install its cutting-edge “bomb blast-resistant façade system”. Director Dean Walton says: “Terrorism isn’t going away. We need to do something about it, even if it’s just protecting people in a building. This is one area in the construction industry that will see significant growth.”

Check the Real Business website for more businesses to run in a recession tomorrowRelated articlesStorming results for MyVoucherCodesCruise firm makes £1m in six weeksHow to do business in the Gulf

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