The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought about extreme, uncontrollable changes to our world. Stores are closed, many remain at home and strict social distancing measures are here for the long haul.
Unsurprisingly, organisations across all sectors have taken a significant hit and the retail industry is no exception. Retailers must therefore adapt in order to survive, while taking extra precautions to keep their employees safe.
Fashion brand Blauer USA – part of FGF Industry – is among the retail success stories, expressing creativity in times of crisis and adapting rapidly to ensure the safety of staff. Here at Kooomo, we had a brief (virtual) sit down with Enzo Fusco, president and founder of FGF Industry, and Guiseppe D’Amore, CEO of FGF industry, to better understand how they are adapting to this crisis and what the future of Blauer USA may look like.
Enzo Fusco begins by outlining the present and future for FGF Industry: “2020 will undoubtedly be a tough year for us all. Everyone has been affected by the coronavirus and many changes seem pretty irreversible. However, we cannot give up and we must return to work. Our survival here at FGF Industry impacts many jobs and livelihoods. Now is therefore the time to adapt to our new reality and put sensible recovery plans in place. Although we do expect a 50% decline in sales in 2020, the company remains in a healthy position."
One way Fusco is helping his staff during this crisis is by taking out an insurance policy with UnipolSai, which aims to protect employees who contract the virus. As part of this gesture of solidarity, FGF industry even produced a brand mascot, Teddy Blauer – a bear dressed as an American policeman who is ready to help those in need. The proceeds from this initiative will be donated to the Department of Civil Protection, highlighting that Blauer USA is doing everything it can to support its home territory during these turbulent times.
Fusco also reports that FGF Industry has implemented economic support plans at all levels,from suppliers to the points of sale. These plans include taking on the costs of 25-30% of goods not collected by customers, which will remain in the warehouse. They will also evaluate, on a case by case basis, any discounts, changes of goods or returns to meet the needs of the consumer.
Guiseppe D’Amore continues: "The group immediately adopted all sanitary measures to guarantee safe working conditions back in February. From temperature detection to weekly sanitisation of workspaces, we made sure to safeguard the welfare of our staff. These methods were kept in place until March 24th. After all industry activities were officially closed, we had all staff working remotely. Facing this new reality was definitely tough, but we knew we needed to tackle it head on in order to survive."
Blauer USA’s strong eCommerce presence also played a key role in its survival. This presence has witnessed continuous growth of more than 30% year-on-year over the past three years, and is essential to adapt to our new, virtual reality.
Giuseppe D’Amore explains, “Blauer's online store has remained operational throughout this crisis. The work-in logistics were streamlined and we optimised the preparation and delivery of orders in two business days instead of five.”
“Needless to say, the effects of the first lockdown were reflected in our sales,” continues Giuseppe. “This is understandable, given online purchases gravitated towards necessities or pharmaceuticals. Consequently, we had to readjust our social messaging and advertising campaigns to focus on essential product categories that could be useful during quarantine. We also introduced discounts and free shipping. These measures allowed us to finish March almost financially on par with last year."
Giuseppe adds: “The future will certainly be more digital, particularly for the B2B relationship. A different way to present our next collection is already being considered, given that all fashion shows have been cancelled or postponed.”