How do you assess the impact of Covid-19 on the retail industry, more specifically the footwear industry?
With over 35 million people being employed, Indian retail industry is the second largest employer after agriculture in the country. Given that stores and e-retail is shut, the retail industry is trying to survive a situation of zero revenue and to manage costs during this time. Our 1st priority is to protect our employees at this time. The footwear industry, not catering to a truly essential product, will take some time to recover. Even then the initial sales may come from online while people continue to practice social distancing.
What are the polices that the brands are implementing to sustain in the current scenario ?
Currently brands are looking to conserve cash during this lockdown and during the period of recovery. This is primarily through negotiating rental and looking at orders in the pipeline. Brands are trying to project the way forward for their recovery as different brands in different industries will see different time frames for the same. All steps required to ensure safety of staff and customers is what brands will ensure. Brands are also finding different ways to engage with the customers and keep the brand active in the mind of the customer.
What are the steps taken to overcome the crisis?
We have set up health helplines for all our employees so that they have support during this crisis. While it’s important to be aware of what’s happening around, it’s equally important to stay positive and relevant as a brand. We are doing a lot of engagement through our Mochi and Metro social media handles, to stay connected and spread positivity, be it educating and spreading awareness about social distancing or content that encourages everyone to constructively spend their time at home in a qualitative manner.
In addition to this, we are also in the process of preparing for the post lockdown phase, where we are actively working towards taking every possible measure to ensure the safety of our employees and customers. There are strict SOPs put in place and staff is being trained to ensure that all safety measures are followed. There are active sanitization plans for all stores, office, warehouses, and products. All of these will be sanitized before the stores open and also at regular intervals once regular operations begin. Every step required to ensure customer safety will be taken, to ensure that our customers can walk into our stores without fear.
Conserving Cash is the biggest mantra at this point of time. It’s important to re-imagine things that as a brand we have already been doing. We have re-negotiated rentals for our stores. We are working on strategies to move fixed costs to variable. There are various measures put in place to ensure that there are no layoffs.
Way forward for the brand in the coming month?
The next few months will be tough for the brand. The Indian retail industry may take at least 9-12 months to recover from the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. The recovery may not be a quick ‘bounce back’, however we are confident we will come back. We are also looking to pivot our product range to be relevant to a customer, who is more focused on necessary and essential product with an increased awareness of health and sanitization. We do not see recovery of the luxury segment happening as quickly