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Manfred Junkert: we will have a higher percentage of ecommerce in our business


Today we bring the first part of our conversation with Manfred Junkert, Managing Director of HDS/L: Federal Association of the German Footwear and Leather Goods Industry. We have discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the footwear industry in Germany, and debated what were the main changes coming out of this crisis



The impact of COVID-19

Our industry was much affected by the COVID-19 crisis in 2020. First, we had a lockdown in Germany, which meant all the shops were closed for a while and nobody knew exactly how the crisis would go on. So, as a result, (footwear) production went down in 2020 in Germany and in production sites around the world. So that meant, that we had to take care of how to keep on and continue with the business and what happened in that time (in 2020) was that the (German) government allowed us to make some shortages in employment but keeping all the staff and employment levels. That meant people working less but staying in business. So, I think that helped a lot in 2020 and that was the most important thing*.


Back to normality?

We are hopefully that in 2022 we will reach the levels of 2019, that means, the levels before the crisis.


Main changes

People are more careful about their health, that is one thing.

We have seen that people are now used to work from home offices or mobile offices and some of these developments will probably continue. That will mean that people will stay more at home, will work more at home. In general, we have also seen people getting used to buy their products online and we have seen some growth in that area during the pandemic and I think it will continue in the future and we will have a higher percentage of ecommerce in our business.

What we also have witnessed during the pandemic is that the digital processes in production have grown as well and it is necessary to have digital links from the production to the sales side of the companies and there was a lot of effort done during the last months in all aspects of digitalisation. If this makes the process more effective, quicker, and faster, that is a good development. This also takes the companies closer to the future market because we have seen that the consumers also changed and will continue to change their habits and will probably buy more online in the future. The younger generation is already used to that. And so, this will push our industry more into that direction.


*This scheme is called short-time work (Kurzarbeit). It is a governmental unemployment insurance system in which private sector employees agree to or are forced to accept a reduction in working time and pay, with the state making up for all or part of the lost wages.
 
 
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