French aluminum component specialist G.pivaudran opened its production sites in Souillac this week after a four-week closure. Hervé Delaigue, sales and development director, talks about navigating the uncertain climate in the face of the covid-19 crisis.
What are your most pressing issues to date?
The protection and health of employees remains the priority for g.pivaudran's management and was one of the most important conditions when we reopened our production sites on April 20. Since then, 60% of the workforce has come back to work, so we’ve adapted workstations, trained our managers in safety protocol and ensured that these rules are rigorously applied.
Apart from this, a close reading of how our order books are evolving is primordial and allows us to adapt and be reactive. And so we remained close to our customers in the pre-opening period, which meant that we were able to follow their activities and have the information we needed regarding the priority references when restarting production. That’s when we were able to weigh up the importance of working on major references in fragrance, makeup and skincare.
What impact has the crisis had on production and how do you see this evolving?
For the current year, our clients are reporting an average drop in turnover of between 25% and 35%. This depends on the markets and their evolution, of course, and Asia and specifically China are giving positive signs of a restart in terms of consumption. However, not all products have their highest sales in these faraway regions, and are still being offset by current events.
As to the evolution of the crisis, only the future will tell. We have to be able to adapt, but also be extremely vigilant when reading the signs of recovery. Travel and business trips in general need to start up again so that our customers’ orders aptly reflect what’s happening in the market. To date, it’s been more about adjusting stocks for the market's premium products.
What strategies have you implemented in the face of the crisis?
Our management has defined a strategic business continuity plan. We have a fairly accurate vision of our clients’ orders, postponements and cancellations over the next three weeks and we review the situation on a regular basis.
How are your customers reacting to the crisis with regards their suppliers?
First off, we stayed in close contact during the closure. Some of them even accepted that we deliver parts that had already been produced, and also agreed to pay for them to support us. Certain customers offered to review their payment terms, while others helped us by delivering free sanitizer gel and protective visors.
How do you see the crisis playing out?
As of today, it’s hard to say. The global market will dictate what happens and in France, much will depend on the government’s strategy for coming out of confinement.
At our level, we remain attentive and analyze our order books daily, which is our best barometer along with our contact with brand managers who are helping us anticipate and understand their needs for the recovery.
We are already working with some customers on developments for new launches, while others have postponed projects that were already signed and in development by a few months. But overall, we remain confident and our team is highly motivated.