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One year on: How portfolio company DA Languages defied the pandemic to support customers and drive growth

One year on from the first COVID-19 lockdown, we reflect on the transformational efforts of Foresight Regional Investment Fund portfolio company, fast-growing language services provider DA Languages.

When COVID-19 hit, the Manchester-based company faced the challenges of having to transition from face to face interpretation, to remote services. This was at a time when healthcare was under unprecedented strain, and their work became even more vital. As the pandemic progressed, the company was quick to adapt operations and rise to these new challenges.

Despite operating against an economic backdrop unparalleled in recent years, DAL reported that 2020 was its best-ever year. The company’s rapid response during the pandemic saw it invest significantly in technology and IT infrastructure to support clients, including a number of NHS trusts, and DAL reported revenues in the year end of June had surged 28% to £9.6m. Prospects for the current financial year are strong, with a number of new business wins and framework appointments set to boost revenues a further 35%.

DAL's Managing Director, Matthew Taylor, talks openly about the impact of COVID-19 on operations. He said “2020 was clearly an incredibly challenging year for everyone and our first priority after ensuring the well-being of our people, was to support our clients by enabling them to switch quickly from a face-to-face appointment system to video and telephone based.

“Recognising the importance of continued service delivery to the NHS, our teams worked incredibly hard to transfer thousands of important interpreting sessions to a remote service, which was under-pinned by a significant investment in our technology and infrastructure. This led to a 400% growth in telephone Interpreting and 900% growth in video interpreting, as we enabled the NHS, local authorities and many other public sector bodies to continue to operate many of their services.”

During the Spring 2020 lockdown, the DA Languages team offered free telephone interpreting services to the Nightingale Hospitals in Bristol and Manchester and is now helping to deliver the NHS Track and Trace system.

Every month the company’s technology is enabling vulnerable people, with limited or no English, to access over 50,000 public service interpreting sessions.

Matthew added “Considering the business was severely impacted by the cancellation of face to face appointments, which hit our revenues in April and May, we have had a strong year, retaining all existing customers and securing 27 new strategic clients, including Yorkshire Ambulance Service, The Office for National Statistics, the DVLA and the DVSA.”

The company has also been awarded full status on two new Public Sector frameworks, the NOECPC (North of England commercial procurement collaborative) and the National Police Dynamic Purchasing system. This police framework is the first time all forces have joined together to create a consistent, high specification and bespoke procurement route, covering 38 police forces.

Businesses like DA Languages are the lifeblood of the regional economy as it looks to recover from the challenges the pandemic has brought. The team has been energetic, flexible and above all customer-focused in the way it has pivoted its operations in difficult circumstances.

DAL is a true success story – its growth has enabled it to expand its workforce from 20 to around 100 in less than three years, and with the recent framework wins, the prospects for further success are very promising.