Wandsworth entrepreneur launches website celebrating UK businesses

A Wandsworth entrepreneur has launched a website celebrating UK businesses, with 75 sellers signed up since its launch in November.

Buy Britain was set up by Michael Ozmann and works by giving sellers a platform to promote their products on for consumers to buy.

Before the pandemic hit, Ozmann was a freelance contractor for Shell but lost his work with them as the pandemic put a financial strain on the company.  

Ozmann considered what to do after the work ended and gave serious thought to starting his own business.

He said: “I thought, ‘should I go back out into this slightly precarious job market or take a bit of time and look at it as an opportunity?’

“I had the idea for a little while. It felt like lots of things colliding at the same time: having this time on my hands, the pandemic hitting the economy, Brexit.

“A lot of people said they wanted to buy more locally. I thought now is the time to do this.”

HELPING HAND: Ozmann’s website Buy Britain supports UK businesses

Buy Britain aims to help those businesses struggling with the economic effects of the pandemic.

Ozmann added: “I think buying local has a real multiplier effect for the economy. It helps real, tangible people.

“I wanted to do something that can be a real business, that I can grow into a proper tech company and create local jobs. We are hiring someone in April.

“I think there is a common misconception nothing is made here, and it is just not true. No one has really brought it together in one place which is what I am trying to achieve.”

Buy Britain was a great help for Franco De Santis, who along with his wife Marisa, runs a company selling homemade jewellery called F&M De Santis Jewellery.

Their business has been running since 1980 and their shop ran in Jubilee Market at Covent Garden until March 2020, when they stopped face to face trading because of lockdown.

Franco said: “We had to find a way to divert our attention to a different way of selling. Of course, Buy Britain arrived just at the right time.

“It was a golden opportunity for us to concentrate our efforts on selling in a different way. We tick all the boxes, made in Britain and sold in Britain mostly.”

The business has had a very good response after being involved in Buy Britain.

Franco and Marisa have not yet been back to the market because of charges and concerns over catching COVID-19, so selling online has become their best alternative.

Franco added: “We could do it from the comfort of our house. We could still create, which we love about our job, and make some money. So it was a win win for us.”

The company received some government support, which helped keep them afloat while they prepared for the launch of Buy Britain.

Franco said: “We are probably much better off financially because we are not facing the costs of going to Covent Garden.

“When we go back, Buy Britain will play a major part in the recovery. We will have a physical presence back in the market which is the place we belong to because of the many years we have traded there.

“But at the same time from now on we have the opportunity to advertise on Buy Britain.

“We know that some old customers may not be able to make it again as often as they want. So now they can buy online. The only way is up.”

Featured image credit: Michael Ozmann

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