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Comment: The good, the bad and the ugly will be remembered

Simon Berwin, owner of Simon Berwin Advisory, and former managing director of menswear supplier Berwin & Berwin, discusses the importance of supporting those less fortunate during the coronavirus outbreak. 

When this nightmare is all over there will be stories to be told and shared. Chief executives taking a salary holiday (salute Kurt Keiger’s Neil Clifford), companies donating excess stock to charity shops, and the few thinking of the whole supply chain.

It is interesting that we plague our suppliers with ethical audits, checking dental records, etc, and yet when the time for partnership comes some treat their suppliers like something from the slave trade.

Imagine working somewhere in Asia where you have just returned to the factory after 10 weeks (where you earn $120 a month), only to find that the fabric deliveries for your customers have either been delayed six months or cancelled all together, probably with the trims paid for by your stretched owners, and now sitting untouched in your warehouse. What is ethical about that?

I was very heartened yesterday when amongst the gloom I heard of two retailers speaking to their long term suppliers to discuss how they could pay towards wages at this frightening time. The details do not matter, but what a gesture and how much good will that relationship have going forward. I also heard of another company offering their staff, within reason, interest free loans.

I am afraid it is time for the super rich to stand up and be counted by remembering their stake holders. It’s at times like these that people will remember the good, the bad and the ugly.

Think of the workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, and China who will be lucky to eat two meals a day and your own staff some of whom will be hungry and defaulting.

Those of us who can comfortably pay our bills and eat well should recognise how lucky we are and do whatever possible to support others whether it be our stakeholders, our elderly neighbours, or the wonderful members of the NHS.

Please, please think of others less fortunate than yourself and think of the consequences of your actions.

Make sure you are recognised as one of the good when Drapers and beyond reflect. There is always a day of reckoning.

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