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CORDER’S COLUMN: Coronavirus calls for cool heads

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The days when we might have hoped the Coronavirus pandemic would pass us by or leave us relatively unscathed are over.

Even those of us that do not catch the virus will fear for our own health and particularly for the safety of any elderly or unwell relatives.

It is quite literally true that we are all in this together.

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Togetherness may be in short supply from a business perspective over the coming weeks. It is right and proper that companies look at how to cut costs immediately to mitigate against falling sales.

That will affect the entire ecosystem from component manufacturers to watchmakers, wholesalers, subsidiary offices around the world, and retailers.

How seriously businesses are affected will vary from country to country. In France, for example, all jewelers and watch shops are already closed. The current government advice in the United States is that all shops and businesses should remain open.

Open or not, retail sales will take a hit until this crisis is over.

Preparation should already be underway for businesses to bounce back as quickly as possible when normality begins to return.

That is not to say a siren will sound, people will dance in the streets, and everything will get back to how it was before Covid-19 hit. The trauma will last long into the future and the sort of confidence that lifts spending on discretionary goods like watches will take time to return.

Through this all, however, relationships that are important today to your business must be maintained.

Relationships within your immediate team are the most vital. Offices, factories and shop floors are places where support networks have always been vital. They will be tested and the most supportive and positive will emerge strongest.

The same is true of relationships between companies. Orders are likely to be scaled back, targets will be missed and that will hit people in the pocket as well as the P&L.

Wherever possible, this pain should be shared. We must avoid the sort of psychology that is making some people strip supermarket shelves of dried pasta and handwash, regardless of how that leaves the more selfless people that are refusing to panic buy.

As an industry we must search for solutions rather than see some companies rush for small victories that cause once valuable partners to lose. Recovery will be far faster if we are still dealing with the same customers and suppliers in three months’ time.

I have always liked the business advice that there are two ways to get ahead as an individual and a business. There are those that push down those around them to look like they have inched up. There are others that work collaboratively and strain every sinew to nudge everybody forward. I know what option I will be adopting.

On a practical note, the wheels of the watch industry are still turning. It takes years to bring new watches to market, and the new watches for 2020 are being launched.

WatchPro will continue to celebrate these launches, inform our readers about the stories behind them, and provide a bit of business context about why they matter.

We will still be speaking to watchmakers and retailers with a view to sharing best practice that benefits everybody. It is good to talk.

If you find yourself self-isolating, one thing you will not need to fear is whether your daily fix of watch industry news and gossip will reach you. Just check your e-mails every morning Monday to Saturday, and you will find us there.

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Tags : Corder's ColumnCoronavirus
Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder