The Eye of the (healthy) Tiger

COVID-19: Our Latest Update

We opened for the season on Monday 16 March 2020, the virus closed us on Tuesday 17 March. As tough seasons go, this has to be a record! Since then it has been a tumultuous time of thinking, planning, consulting, reskilling and so on, but we’re starting to see a clear path, albeit a winding one.

Firstly, if you want to continue to support CBK’s during the crisis, thank you very much. There is nothing nicer than your community of customers supporting you during hard times. There are two great ways you can do it.

  • Give a Wave to the NHS, Emergency Services and Social Carers: We’ve recently started a ‘pay it forward’ crowdfunding campaign. If you can give a little money to the campaign (donations start at £5), we’ll turn that money into kayak and SUP adventures for our local heroes once the crisis is over. Read more and give a wave…
  • Treat Yourself: Buy a gift voucher from CBK’s and that’s you committing to visit us in the next two years. For every £50 of vouchers sold, we’re donating £10 of activities to NHS, emergency and social care workers. Buy vouchers online…

So, what’s been going on since our last check in with you?

Family First

Our CBK’s team is like family, so the first step after this crisis hit was protecting their wages. Fortunately, we were able to keep everyone on their usual hours and full pay until 20 March. Since then they have joined the furlough scheme, ensuring 80% pay going forward.

It’s not all roses, we do have several seasonal workers due to join us and a number of self-employed instructors that our business is not able to financially support and who we feel have not been considered adequately in the current legislation. We are highlighting these issues via industry consultations, liaising with the Federation of Small Businesses and we’ve written to our MP. We will continue to campaign on their behalf.

Financial Planning

Anyone with a business will know cash flow is the life blood of any business. The money coming in must be greater than the money going out, but try maintaining that when you’re closed. For many businesses they have not stress tested what 4 months without income might look like, fortunately we do this every year, it’s called the off season! Of course, we’re being flippant as the off season has been survivable in the past with the high season to sustain us, but what we mean is that having a lean business that can be easily wound-down and hibernated, that’s in our DNA.

In addition to the short term, we have been examining leisure industry data about what to expect when this is all over. We’re expecting a 50% contraction in our business once trading resumes due to ongoing travel restrictions, school trip restrictions and reductions in consumer spending. The industry is not likely to recover to 2019 levels until at least 2023. That is going to be tough, but we can weather it and the wheels are already in motion to refocus what we do.

We promised we would publish our business continuity plans online. We haven’t forgotten about that; however, we are still pulling it together. We’ve accessed some amazing consultancy free of charge to assist with this planning, we’re confident we’ll have this out there by the end of April.


We still have certain things we have to keep doing. Customer service, cancellations, refunds, website maintenance and so on. The phones are not busy, but they do ring now and again. We’ve also had to de-rig our off-site venues and get kit into long term storage. So that’s been keeping us busy. Operations will continue indefinitely. We’re still here, by phone, by email, on social media. So, keep in touch!

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, we are dealing with the closure in two-week blocks. Right now, we’re closed until 17 April. It looks likely we’ll extend that to 1 May in the next few days, and so on. It wouldn’t be wise to pull our entire summer programme off the schedule at this stage, as despite the speculation, no one knows what May, June, July etc are going to look like.

Strategy: To pivot or not?

Many of our friends in the industry have chosen to pivot their business and are now offering virtual coaching, creative products, podcasts and other innovative ideas. If you have those skills in your business this is a no-brainer, but we unfortunately do not. Our skill is real adventures in the great outdoors. We could of course re-skill and start producing paid-for online content, but let’s be honest, Joe Wicks, Netflix, Disney+, they’ve nailed digital media and anything we produce will probably not be of sufficient quality that we could charge for it.

So instead, we’re focussing on producing content that adheres to our long-term plans. We’re continuing at pace with developing our online kayak, SUP and accessories store, supporting our existing small in-store retail offer. We are working on videos to support our education and water safety programmes. We’re doing some free members-only videos, as our CBK’s members know us well enough that us making an idiot of ourselves in front of a camera will neither surprise nor offend them.

The main thrust of our plan is to use the time we have to make our core business stronger, not to build a new business from the ground up.


Wow, you’re still here! Thanks for reading this. The aim of these blog posts is to keep you updated and to let you know that we’re not just sitting in a corner weeping. If there is a song that embodies our spirit right now, it’s Eye of the Tiger (not the tiger unfortunately afflicted with Coronavirus at Bronx Zoo, the healthy ones in the wild). We’ll sign off with the lyrics, read on or have a listen:

Risin' up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance, now I'm back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive

So many times, it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive

It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight
Risin' up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he's watchin' us all with the eye of the tiger

Face to face, out in the heat
Hangin' tough, stayin' hungry
They stack the odds 'til we take to the street
For the kill with the skill to survive

It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight
Risin' up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he's watchin' us all with the eye of the tiger

Risin' up, straight to the top
Had the guts, got the glory
Went the distance, now I'm not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive

It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight
Risin' up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he's watchin' us all with the eye of the tiger

The eye of the tiger
The eye of the tiger
The eye of the tiger
The eye of the tiger

To all our friends, members and customers, we hope you continue to stay safe and well throughout the crisis.

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Call us: 0191 251 9412

Visit us: 1A Norma Crescent, Cullercoats, NE26 2PD

Our opening hours vary seasonally.

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