Based in northern Italy, Northwave produce snowboard boots and own Drake bindings and snowboards. We’ve spoken with the company’s General Manager, Davide Rossetti to find out how the current pandemic affected their business and how he sees the landscape panning out in the future.
What changes have you made to your business so it can better cope with the crisis?
As soon as we had the first alert from the Italian Government, we started to organize ourselves to move as many as employees as possible to smart working terms. We created a crisis team, centralized communication to all employees, set in place all the necessary initiatives to protect our staff (thermometers, masks, gloves etc).
The last people to leave the company were warehouse staff and some people who work in the laboratory, those with activities not possible to move remotely. During the lockdown we are sanitizing the company periodically.
How have you been able to help your retailer base?
We accepted their conditions for delaying payment. We told them we are ready to support them during this difficult period.
How has your supply chain been affected by the crisis?
For products made in Asia, we were initially worried about delays for materials from China. But we kept in touch constantly with our material suppliers and from what we’ve seen, they’re recovering fast to the point today where we foresee a delay of 7-10 days, but we are even confident they will overcome this delay too.
What is your expectation for deliveries from the Far East?
What’s most worrying is the development of Covid-19 in other Asian countries where sanitary conditions and national health systems are different than China.
In this moment they are still working and we are in daily in contact with our suppliers to keep the situation under control.
How was the winter for you before the crisis began?
Very different from country to country. There were countries which had a good winter and some others had no snow, if not it came really late.
For sure March more than February partially affected sales results considering winter resorts were shutting down progressively before expected.
How does this winter’s pre-book look like?
Better than what we were expecting considering the current situation.
What intervention has the government offered businesses such as yours?
In Italy, the Government set a program called “Cura Italia” to support the employees of any company. It can be used for a maximum of 9 weeks, starting from the day you activate your request and it needs to be used by July 31st (6 months from Jan 31st, day which the Italian Government set the state of alert).
From what we hear, there should be more to come in the next weeks too. Other than businesses like ours, they have to do something to support any kind of retail as well.
What kind of actions can you suggest the winter sports business take to minimise disruption?
It will all depend on how the situation is going to evolve in the next few months.
If we are allowed out in good time, there are enough months between now and next winter to allow us to think we could have some kind of normality, even if maybe different to what we used to consider as normality. In the unlikely scenario this is not going to happen, it will depend on when something is going to change. The more the situation goes on, the less the consumer will think about investing money in sports products. If people go for too many months with no salary or with social assistance, they will definitely have much different priorities than heading to the mountains.