18/03/2020 – Outmanoeuvred... — auf Deutsch lesen

The coronavirus Covid 19 changes everything

9,300 cases and 26 deaths in Germany alone. The coronavirus crisis has brought public life to a complete standstill. And yet, every crisis can lead to new opportunities.


We all instinctively know that panic is a poor adviser and, as I said at the beginning of this article, every crisis brings opportunities. So, what is the order of the day? To ensure we all survive! On that note: please stay healthy! © dennisdolecki/stock.adobe.com


Not only our politicians but also many members of the public have greatly underestimated the impact of coronavirus.

On 18 March 2020, German daily newspaper Morgenpost revealed in its news blog: "More and more corporations are scaling down production – both demand and the supply chains have encountered huge disruption as a result of coronavirus. VW and its subsidiary Audi have both halted production; Daimler is likewise reducing output in Europe."

Corona crisis requires collaborative partnerships

Coronavirus has the global economy firmly in its grasp. Every individual is affected. People in Germany are now facing far-reaching restrictions. Travel plans, events and meetings are all being cancelled or postponed until further notice.

In a recent statement, the HDS/L – Federal Association of the German Footwear and Leather Goods Industry hit the nail on the head:

"The footwear and fashion industry is suffering from the impact of the corona crisis. Currently, no-one can predict how long this extremely taxing situation will persist for trade and industry. Despite the adverse conditions, the Federal Association of the German Footwear and Leather Goods Industry and its member companies would like to assure everyone that it has the situation firmly under control. Our most important message is: Production will continue so that we are able in the future to supply the trade with products on time. The forced closure of stores until further notice will mean that the footwear and fashion trade will sustain a dramatic fall in sales or no sales at all in the coming weeks. The HDS/L is well aware of this situation and is responding appropriately. As usual, the HDS/L’s member firms will do everything in their power to support their retail partners, building on forward-looking and collaborative partnerships. ...

Textiles and apparel industry in crisis mode

In a press release dated 16 March 2020, the textile industry and employers’ association Südwesttextil welcomed the measures taken by the national and regional governments as they attempt to soften the impact of coronavirus on the economy. Federal Employment Minister Hubertus Heil made it clear that the Government would “ease access to short-time working benefits”, induced by coronavirus, retrospectively to 1 March 2020. According to Heil, companies can already apply and should contact their local job centres. Furthermore, the announcement by the Federal Finance Minister to provide limitless access to loans is doubtless an important, though probably insufficient measure.

Südwesttextil’s CEO Peter Haas:

“We won’t just need loans and tax deferrals. We will also have to think about direct aid and payment transfers. And: It’s essential that the money is made available quickly.” The announcement by the Federal Minister of Justice to suspend the legal obligation to file for insolvency proceedings until the end of September will no doubt bring welcome respite to many. Given the current circumstances, Haas believes the usual three-week deadline is far too short, not least because the planned shutdown, which includes the closure of all shops except for supermarkets, will push clothing and fashion manufacturers into precarious and unknown territory. The closure of automotive factories has dramatically altered the situation for many textile suppliers in southwest Germany. Peter Haas: “We need help without red tape, and I can only hope that the state is capable of putting the necessary processes in place despite being faced with the pressures of current events. Our lawyers are providing our members with advice around the clock. Südwesttextil’s digitally networked office is open as usual. We are also preparing additional and even live communication platforms for the latest information from and for our members.”

Europe becomes the epicentre

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that Europe has become the “epicentre” of the coronavirus pandemic. Tens of thousands of people are already infected with the virus, and thousands have succumbed to it. In Germany, the number of confirmed cases is also rising by the day: By Tuesday evening, the respiratory illness Covid-19 had been confirmed in more than 9,300 cases and had claimed 26 lives.

The Federal Government and länder are introducing drastic measures in an attempt to slow the further spread of coronavirus and to stop the health service from buckling under the strain. Public life is being reduced to the bare minimum. More and more industrial corporations are scaling down production – coronavirus is disrupting not only demand but also supply chains. Production is stalling, business trips are taboo, and working from home is becoming a welcome alternative for office workers.

Every crisis brings opportunities

This comment is not meant to trivialise the seriousness of the situation in which we find ourselves. However, at present there is precious little we can do to change it. The government’s far-reaching measures have not been introduced to cause us harm but to save as many souls as possible. The virtues of benevolence, solidarity, community spirit and deference, so frequently forgotten in our modern world, are enjoying a comeback. These sentiments shine through in the many emails that companies are sending to “their” communities.

For example, the Swiss lingerie maker Calida writes:

"We hope that you and your nearest and dearest are all well. The current situation surrounding the coronavirus is posing challenges, the like of which we have never seen before. We strongly believe that we will get through this crisis together if everyone does what is required of them.”

And Johnnie Boden writes:

"This is a worrying and difficult time for all of us. We are all thinking of our families and friends, especially the old and vulnerable. I too, am concerned for the Boden community, our team and our customers. I just want to let you know what Boden is doing to protect everyone. We are giving safety top priority but at the same time, in the face of this terrible situation, I feel it would be wrong to give into panic. ...

We all instinctively know that panic is a poor adviser and, as I said at the beginning of this article, every crisis brings opportunities. So, what is the order of the day? To ensure we all survive!

On that note: please stay healthy!