Handling the impact of COVID-19 on the retail industry

Endeavor Webinar Series:

The experience of Enrico Casati

The coronavirus outbreak is first and foremost a human tragedy, affecting hundreds of thousands of people, while at the same time its adverse impact on the global economy’s growth. The outbreak is moving quickly, and some of its perspectives are analyzed in Endeavor’s webinars.

Continuing its webinar series, which aims to reveal various aspects of coronavirus emergency, Endeavor invited Enrico Casati, an Italian entrepreneur and founder of Velasca. His leading company manufactures and sells the artisanal “DTC” shoes in Italy and the scope of the webinar is to share his insights on how to navigate on the current coronavirus crisis, which affects the retail sector.

Italy’s nationwide coronavirus lockdown is set to rock the retail industry, with brands facing for what could be a billion-dollar setback. Enrico Casati describes how he manages the crisis, which hits his enterprise.

Primarily focus on safety

“The last thing that we would like to face, is our people to get sick” declares Enrico Casati and prepared for managing a workforce that cannot come to the workplace. The founder of Velasca focused on the importance of acting quickly and explained why he decided to take action very soon after the outbreak, by asking all employees to work remotely, in order to reduce the risk of infection spreading. “The implementation of smart working and the use of the new technologies are effective for the smooth operation of business functions” quoted Enrico Casati.

New employment relations

Velasca reviewed its policy regarding the employment relations. In order to cut costs and survive through the crisis, the company reduced the workhours and the salaries to its employees. “It is in our firm’s culture to reassure every single employee that during this crisis we are all in this together” stated Enrico Casati and added that “it is like we are in the storm, we all face the same conditions”.

Dealing with uncertainty

Coronavirus affects the business plan of Velasca. “We had to reconsider our plans and strategy for 2020” mentioned Enrico Casati. In order to protect Velasca’s cash flows, the founder of the company acted rapidly and took the following measures:

Enrico Casati mentioned: “Coronavirus impact is also clear in our store expansion, as we postponed the opening and operation of 4 new stores, three in Italy and one in New York”.

“It is in our firm’s culture to reassure every single employee that during this crisis we are all in this together”

Three business plans

Setting direct health concerns aside, it has now become clear that coronavirus will not pass without leaving some long-term business and economic consequences in his wake. While it might be tempting to focus on just staying afloat in the moment, it is crucial to plan for the future and be fully prepared for what will come next in the retail business.

Enrico Casati expressed the importance of being well prepared for the crisis, so he drafted three different business plans. “We have three plans, the realistic, the optimistic and the disaster plan” he mentioned. The three business plans/scenarios, as described by the founder of Velasca, are the following:

You can listen the recording of the webinar here.

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