“I’m optimistic about the year ahead.”
Marc Lefebvre, CEO of KILLINE told me.
Unlike most businesses right now, his eyewear company is standing steady in the current crisis.
But why? And what can the rest of us learn from them?
Can’t See the Wood from the Trees
Many of us are firefighting right now, trying to keep our businesses afloat. Cash flow, supply chain, warehouse production and management challenges are keeping us very busy and certainly adding a few grey hairs!!
Assuming the immediate problems can be overcome, there will however hopefully come a time when things will start to return to normal. So, it will be a matter of ‘when’ things get back up and running, not ‘if’.
Some brands sadly may have no alternative but to keep costs down by laying off staff, limiting hiring activity or shutting down product development.
The Risk of Retracting
The major downside of retracting is that if you make redundancies/lay-offs it can take months to get back up and running, and in the meantime, you’ll likely have lost valuable customers.
By the time you’re back up to speed it’s highly likely they’ll have moved on – and luring them back again will be significantly harder than attracting them in the first place.
KILLINE is a respected frame designer and manufacturer in the eyewear industry, with qualitative and innovative products designed in Europe (Portugal) and manufactured in Asia (China and Vietnam).
The Group’s OEM key functions are based in Macau, China, Vietnam and Portugal; offering a wide range of products focused on higher-end metal as well as handmade acetate optical frames.
Operating in over 80 countries throughout the World, the KILLINE Group’s customer base is comprised of large optical chains, retailers, international brands and wholesalers.
Secrets to Survival
As KILLINE CEO Marc Lefebvre admits:
“Managing a business can mean making difficult decisions in the short term, but maintaining a clear focus on long-term value creation will be worth it.”
Their coronavirus strategy includes:
Frequent scenario planning, with constant review of what’s the best- and worst-case scenario for the next 3, 6 months and 12 months.
Clear expectation management, with transparent and ongoing communication with customers globally about potential issues.
Leveraging their manufacturing capabilities in Vietnam, outside China.
Having a clear reactivation plan to get things back up and running again as soon as possible.
Their broader business strategy:
Differentiation through continuous innovation – Their patented concepts include interchangeable, revolutionary readers, eco-friendly materials, adjustable wood, etc.
Diverse portfolio – They don’t have all their eggs in one basket, with their OEM collections doing particularly well right now, inspired by the latest tech and trends, in partnership with their customers.
Strong Culture – Agility, focus and dedication of their global team has no doubt got them where they are today; extremely hardworking, they have the right reflex in times of hardship.
Homeworking is part of the day-to-day business model – Wherever it applies in the operations of this multinational manufacturing Group; ensuring the business remains responsive and flexible.
Locked and Loaded
While Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic have brought unprecedented challenges for European businesses, some might argue that they have simply exposed cracks that were already there.
It is true that when times are good businesses can afford to be fatter and less efficient. However, when times are hard it is more important than ever for brands to stay one step ahead, and differentiate.
The best way of giving our businesses a fighting chance it would seem, is to be proactive as well as reactive, and have a clear reactivation plan…
And a team of rockstars who can make it happen.
We'd love to hear your feedback on how best to manage crisis' and what strategy is best for weathering the storm. Let us know!
And if there is anything we can help with - big or small, please get in touch.