NEW businesses and those that are diversifying as a result of the effects of coronavirus are being urged to take advice before investing time and money.

To support the economic recovery from the pandemic, North Yorkshire Trading Standards service is currently offering all its advice services free to any businesses, with particular focus on those that are starting up or changing the products or services they sell as a result of Covid-19.

North Yorkshire library service has also invested in a wide-ranging business advice package that is freely available online and of particular value to start-up businesses.

The Trading Standards service waived its fees when lockdown began and will continue to give free advice until at least September. A specialist team can provide advice on all aspects of trading standards law.

One business to take advantage is Cooper King Distillery, which is based at Sutton-on-the-Forest, near York. Cooper King Distillery was founded in 2016 by Dr Abbie Neilson and Chris Jaume to produce sustainable spirits. It is England’s only self-built whisky and gin distillery, and one of only a handful in the country to run on 100 per cent green energy.

During the pandemic Chris and Abbie, like some other distillers, have switched some production to hand sanitiser to address high demand.

Chris said: “We reached out to Trading Standards during the Covid pandemic to seek clarification on the labelling requirements for alcohol-based hand sanitiser. We had diversified from producing sustainable gin and whisky in our distillery to hand sanitiser to help fight the spread of the disease.

“The department responded quickly with concise and useful information, which gave us the confidence to donate and supply sanitiser to schools, hospitals and care homes across the country. As a business, we’re not just focused on our environmental responsibilities but our social responsibilities too, and Trading Standards helped us respond with agility during this crisis.”

Cooper King is considering adding hand sanitiser to its range permanently. There, too, Trading Standards advice has been helpful, as while some regulations have been relaxed for now, that won’t be the case in the long term.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Andrew Lee, Executive Member for Open for Business, said: “Our Trading Standards offer is about doing as much as we can to support businesses at this time. We want to see North Yorkshire’s economy emerge strongly and we want to support innovation. That’s why we recommend that anyone planning to start or diversify a business, perhaps manufacturing or importing protective equipment, or shift their business model, perhaps moving from bricks and mortar premises to online, contact our team before committing themselves."

“For example, products must meet safety regulations and businesspeople have responsibilities as manufacturers or importers. Our team can make sure you understand and meet the requirements. We want businesses to succeed, that’s why we want to offer them the right advice from the start.”

Businesses can contact Trading Standards on 01609-780780 or at

Information about product safety, including imports, can be found at

North Yorkshire’s library service also plays an important role in supporting small businesses.

County Councillor Greg White, Executive Member for Libraries, said: “With business start-ups in mind, we have recently invested in COBRA (the Complete Business Reference Adviser), an online business reference resource with a wealth of easy to find, practical information.”

Cllr White added: “As the coronavirus continues to impact businesses, there are also regularly updated factsheets covering latest developments and the support available. All of this is free to use with membership of North Yorkshire libraries and offers remote access so customers can use it at home.”

Although libraries are currently closed, when open they also provide affordable meeting spaces, IT, study space and access to information.

COBRA can be found at All customers need to do is input their library card number and PIN. To join the library or get a PIN number, call the library helpline on 01609 533878.