[:it]by CORRADO LARONGA
Edelberto “Iguana” Baracco, CEO of Compagnia dei Caribbean, tells us how the company is facing the crisis period and how it imagines the restart of the sector and, more generally, of the country.
What are the most obvious consequences of the lockdown?
There was a significant decline, as we expected. We are now in the sixth week and from a sales point of view it is a really difficult moment, especially due to the Horeca channel which is completely blocked for now. It is true that some businesses are still able to work through the web and delivery, but I believe that the market and consumers are not yet ready to metabolize a certain type of takeaway philosophy, which will probably be one of the protagonists of the new future, without however this being the only one.
What do you mean?
We are learning new ways to access consumption from home. Before the lockdown it was unthinkable that fine dining restaurants or cocktail bars would offer takeaway service, while now it has become the order of the day, obviously out of necessity. The concept of delivery was only sketched out in Italy, while abroad it is a more than consolidated reality, just think that in some countries the most modern homes allow less and less space for kitchens, because the culture of cooking at home is not as strong as in Italy. Luckily I don't think that the pandemic will condemn restaurants and cocktail bars to extinction, I just think that the delivery business will grow exponentially, at least for the first time.
How did the Caribbean Company react to the crisis?
We have tried to keep the company running as smoothly as possible, avoiding as far as possible using social safety nets, as a matter of solidarity. The whole chain has to help each other, it's not a good time for the company but it's not a good time for the employees either. No one should be left alone.
Currently the work is divided into two main areas: one is training, which has always been fundamental for us. We have created internal webinar systems (interactive seminars on the internet) with which salespeople and anyone in the company who wishes can delve deeper into the origin, history and peculiarities of each individual product, so it is certainly not wasted time, on the contrary. The second area on which we worked is that of the new catalogue, which should have been presented at Vinitaly. The event was rightly postponed, but we still intend to present the new line in May.
Are you involved in solidarity projects?
Of course: with Tannico, Callmewine and other e-commerce we support some hospital facilities such as the Sacco Hospital in Milan and the Bellaria hospital in Bologna, allocating a percentage of the proceeds from sales on these platforms to the facility. Furthermore, we support the website promettoditornare.it, which has created an interesting project through which consumers can purchase goods and services in advance from their trusted businesses to benefit from once the business is reopened, all naturally at an advantageous price. The idea is to try to compensate for the current lack of liquidity of commercial businesses, a very useful project in our opinion to which we have given full visibility through all our channels. Finally, we participated in Caroselloisback, a format born on Instagram which consists of a 15-minute live broadcast every day, from 7.45pm to 8.00pm, during which we talk about various issues relating to the world of communication and marketing. Due to the peak audience reached each day, the person or company that participates as a guest in the live broadcast adds a 0 and the resulting amount is donated to a Milanese association that deals with violence against women. women. Finally we also made a small video (visible here) to try to send a positive message to the market in our own way.
How and when do you imagine a recovery?
Unfortunately, it will be inevitable that this crisis will hit micro-businesses in particular. As far as our branch is concerned, some bars will probably close, but it must be said that the vitality and energy that have always characterized Italians will ensure that the closures correspond to as many openings, which will not lead to an impoverishment of the offer, if anything to a renewal of signs. A trend that was already visible before the crisis will increasingly make its way into the market, namely a break in the classic pattern of distribution and sales channels: the watchword will be "promiscuity", so we will see bars that will move towards catering, restaurants that will open up to the possibility of also carrying out wine shop activities, supermarkets that will look at cash & carry and so on. The traditional mechanics we are used to will no longer exist, as will the clear boundaries that characterized the different activities before March.
And what role will delivery have?
I believe that it will no longer be managed only by the large platforms but that even the greengrocer, for example, will start delivering to home again. This micro-delivery could be reborn and I see it as a hope of recreating a neighborhood identity that will allow us to recover a dimension that we have lost for years. Naturally, I hope that delivery will complement classic administration without replacing it, God forbid.
One of the most difficult things to do will be to understand how to overcome the fear of contact so that customers can go back to the premises without fear. In Asia at the moment the horeca sector is in great difficulty precisely because, despite the gradual reopening, people are terrified at the idea of entering a place where they can stay still for even just 15 minutes. It will be necessary to recreate a daily life that passes through a redefinition of spaces and the creation of comfort areas for the consumer, possibly without speculation, because in such a period they would be even more odious than usual.
Do you see any analogy between the post-war economic boom and our recovery, when will it occur?
What we are experiencing has all the characteristics of a war, because we are at the mercy of an enemy who does not shoot at us but has the ability to very quickly change our state of health and, consequently, our way of life. It is an invisible enemy that affects people selectively: the hospital, for example, is a war area, but in the building next door life can go on as usual. Such a fragmented scenario can only be reconstructed with solidarity and adaptation: we must accept that our world has changed and adapt accordingly. The economic boom after the Second World War is a scenario that in my opinion can be replicated when everything is over, and it will be a great opportunity to get back on our feet and become stronger than before. However, we will have to learn to recreate our spaces by listening to ourselves, because the limits and stimuli are all within us, not outside. We have the chance to relive that excitement, so the only question is: do we want to give it to ourselves?