Benjamin Cohen, creative & innovation director at US-based Knoll Prestige Packaging, discusses how the luxury packaging supplier is facing up to the current crisis.
What are your most critical issues to date?
The first priority is protecting the safety of our employees, families, customers and global communities. We first experienced the health risks in January when our team members in China and Hong Kong began falling under government-mandated quarantine and self-distancing. From there, we’ve implemented mandatory company-wide safety measures and remote communication tools to ensure we remain safe while assuring business continuity.
What is the impact of this crisis on production?
Currently we’re seeing no delays in our production process; our factories in China are approaching full operations again, and our staff in China and Hong Kong are beginning to return to the office. Of course, this is an evolving situation and we continue to take the necessary measures to ensure their safety.
In the coming weeks, we expect a significant drop in demand, given that people’s movement is being severely curtailed globally. We are estimating a 20% drop in demand for 2020. Certain countries are restricting deliveries as manpower is reduced and production is nearly stopped. Capacity is not a problem with the demand drop.
We are coordinating in advance with our vendor management teams and customers to ensure that timelines and delivery schedules are monitored and adapted to the current situation.
What strategies are you putting in place?
In a time of global crisis, remaining agile is key. Our teams in New York, Paris, California and the UK are working from home and are equipped to serve our customers. We’re maintaining our process from design to delivery in this new environment, and our clients and partners are accessible and working to maintain this continuity.
An important strategy for us is implementing company health and wellness activities to maintain a positive outlook. We’re offering access to online continued education classes, art, photography, meditation, fitness and nutrition classes through partner websites.
This crisis has reinforced the strength of the ‘family’ of Knoll employees. We’ve been sending masks and sanitizer across the globe (and back), keeping in touch daily with the Hubei employees when there was so much uncertainty, and now using the strength we recognized from our Asian team to support our European and US teams.
How are your customers reacting to the crisis?
This is not an easy time for any of us, and our customers are aligned that we must first protect each other’s health. They are showing big signs of commitment from shifting operations to making hand disinfectant and producing masks to sizable donations.
There are certainly concerns and ongoing discussions about the future of the industry, and there is no doubt that the coronavirus will have a direct impact on the beauty and spirits space; however, our first responsibility is to protect one another.