Navigating the COVID-19 Crisis
#SamosaTalks No one prepares for zero business: Experts discuss COVID-19 impact
Pegging the recovery period at 8 to 18 months, top bosses from varied sectors discuss how they are navigating the COVID-19 lockdown and plans for impact scenarios.
As we crawl through the second week of the national lockdown, there is much left to wonder about how it’s affecting businesses, from manufacturing and distribution to retail and advertising. To discuss the impact of COVID-19, Social Samosa, in association with EMA Partners, got together top bosses across sectors for a live Samosa Talks session.
The panelists included A Ramachandran, Senior Partner, EMA Partners, Kavindra Mishra, Managing Director & CEO, House of Anita Dongre Limited, Vineet Gautam, CEO, Bestseller India, Rajiv Nair, Group CEO, Kaya Limited and Sumit Dhingra, Managing Director, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, Crocs. The discussion was moderated by Utpal Das, Client Director and Practice Lead, Consumer & Retail, EMA Partners.
The live talk made it clear that people across have a lot to worry about and yet, stay hopeful too. They talked about the impact of halting long-planned production cycles and shutting of retail stores and services and its impact on the cash flow.
At the same time, since employees are working from home, there is more time for companies to up their skills with the help of virtual training modules. Brands are looking at ways to unique ways to communicate and add value to the lives of their consumers.
Kaya Limited’s Rajiv Nair spoke about a unique situation they are facing because of sanitisers. Though most of their business has been hit, there has been a significant increase in the demand of sanitisers, to the point that new infrastructure is being created. However, distribution is a task, throwing challenges they are trying to understand and navigate.
Due to Bestseller’s presence in China, Vineet Gautam explains, there were plenty of lessons to keep in mind before the COVID-19 wave had hit India. Retail is tricky for you can never know who walks into the store and a huge chunk of the decisions are governed by the mall ecosystem you function in.
While it is extremely important to take care of your employees, it is also important to remember that you can only do so when you have the cash to keep the boat afloat. Kavindra Mishra from House of Anita Dongre Limited put forth a pertinent point that in the next one year, for every decision a company takes, cash flow should take precedence over profitability.
“When will the cost of the lockdown supersede the cost of the infection?”
Turning the conversation through a rough path of tough questions businesses must ask themselves, A Ramachandran, Senior Partner, EMA Partners wondered out loud: “From a business perspective, it is important to question — When will the cost of the lockdown supersede the cost of the infection? What if the shutdown stretches to June?”
Fusing a sense of positivity in the discussion, Crocs’ Sumit Dhingra pointed out how they are looking at the situation as a slowdown in the momentum rather something that would make them change their long term goals.
All the experts on the panel agreed that the lockdown has impacted the business negatively and the situation is unprecedented. How do you work through zero revenues? Till when? The panel agreed that at this point there are more questions than answers.