MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (May, 2020)
Pleased to join John Northcott and Elmer Kim for the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, talking business in times of COVID19.
Our world has been living with COVID19 for much of 2020; here in Canada, the impact has been felt for months, as our communities and businesses have been essentially closed. Here are some impacts:
- Ongoing retail woes, with store closures, layoffs, and bankruptcy or creditor protection filings from various companies, including Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works, Reitmans, J Crew, Hertz, and Neiman Marcus. Although some retailers have been in a weak market position prior to COVID19, the closures in this sector only reinforce how difficult it is to remain connected with customers and the extent to which online shopping and service (or lack thereof) can impact a company’s market presence. The significant decline in sales foreshadows what we can expect to see in the coming months, as the most recent numbers pertain to March (a decline of about 10%), which only reflects a portion of the true impact.
- Support for big business, with the announcement of the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF), companies in need can apply to this “lender of last resort” program. Although interest rates are relatively low, companies will have to comply with additional provisions, such as issuing warrants to purchase shares, adhering to executive pay caps, and providing the Government with observer status on the board of directors. Although some might complain, in context, these provisions are not that unusual, given the level of risk. It will be interesting to see the extent to which large companies (who are also large employers) access this program.
- Re-opening with green in mind, as in excess of 150 companies have signed a statement supporting the future of business being in alignment with climate action. Given the positive environmental impact that has been observed in recent months, as much of our world has been shut down for a period of time, it’s easy to understand the desire to capitalize on this situation. Not sure there’s been much of a difference? Have a look. What new ideas and business practices might emerge from this movement and how sustainable will they be?
In the weeks ahead, I will be watching the level of progress that is made as communities re-open. What will happen to COVID19 rates? Will communities be able to move forward with the next stages of reopening or will they be forced to backtrack? What changes will companies make to their business models? How will consumer confidence levels be impacted? How many companies will find that they do not have a way forward?
Thank you for watching and a special thanks to everyone who has been in touch to share their thoughts about the challenges that the business world is facing, their ideas and experiences, and support of our work. It matters a great deal that you are thinking about your community and asking: what is working well, where are there challenges, and where do we need to know more in order to make good decisions. In these days like no other, we can collaborate, we can care about companies in our community, as well as our families and friends, and, yes, we can be kind.
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