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We all march together to beat tough times

Richard Kottler

A former boss of mine was fond of saying “Out of bad comes good”, usually when ritually sacking one of his management team.

A former boss of mine was fond of saying “Out of bad comes good”, usually when ritually sacking one of his management team.

I was reminded of this during my recent visits to Moda and Pure London, the key UK trade shows for the footwear industry. The mood at both was downbeat, not helped by the London riots kicking off during Pure London. Moda was also held against a troubling backdrop of stock market volatility, crises in the eurozone and US financial markets, increasing inflation and rising unemployment.

Out of this gloom, however, I noted the rise of a community spirit. Buyers and sellers worked together to make sense of the difficult situation they find themselves in. Jointly trying to predict how consumers are going to behave over the coming months and how this relates to forward orders is one of the driving forces of this enhanced relationship. The juggling act of balancing the needs of the wholesaler and his commitments to his factories with the aims of the retailer to keep stocks low and forward orders short was exercising people’s minds even more than usual.

There was a sense of ‘we are all in this together’ among exhibitors and buyers and, as a result, little point in scoring short-term victories. One comment I heard noted the difference between the financial crash in 2008, which took everyone by surprise, and today’s slowdown, where we know what is happening.

So there is an impetus to agree joint plans that might not earn everyone’s fortune, but should ensure survival.

No one was naive enough to credit this to community spirit alone; but this test of the buyer/seller relationship is being dealt with and the bond is stronger than ever. 

  • Richard Kottler is chief executive of the British Footwear Association

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