We kicked off our new webinar series, The Power Series, in March. Yesterday, our eighth episode, called The Power of Local, went live with insight from three amazing thought leaders. Brought together by Country & Town House’s annual digest, Great British Brands, our panel included George Morgan-Grenville, Founder and CEO of Red Savannah and Katherine Hooker, Founder and Designer at Katherine Hooker.
The panel shared their thoughts on how the pandemic has accelerated the speed at which brands have started to do ‘the right thing’ and become more socially aware and responsible. People are now more appreciative of businesses that are close to home, and local businesses have an unprecedented opportunity. As usual, the discussion was lead by questions from Positive Luxury CEO and Co-founder, Diana Verde Nieto.
Diana began by asking each panellist how COVID-19 affected their respective businesses. “We were just embarking on a year of being able to make real investments in all sorts of exciting things,” said Katherine. “And it was all set to be quite an exciting year, but obviously that hasn’t happened, and we’ve done a complete reverse.” A lot of Katherine’s business happens in the U.S., through trade shows and trunk shows, and she won’t be able to continue with that this year. “But online is doing better than before, so I’m hoping that we’ll be ok,” she added.
“Red Savannah was started in 2011, and I don’t think we’ve had a single year when we’ve had less than 27% growth,” said George. “We were 60% ahead of last year this year, and I hired another six people in January.” While everything hasn’t been postponed or moved for this coming year, and George says that a bit of business will still be happening in France or Spain, there has been a significant impact on cash flow. “Where travel is different from retail, you can’t close a travel company down. We’ve furloughed half the team, and they are doing twice the work, and we have an amazing team and we’ll see it through.”
Moving on to the benefits of local supply chains, Katherine explained what makes her grateful that most of her operations are close to home. “Having things local makes all the difference,” she said. “Our workshop is in London, and there is someone from Katherine Hooke there everyday of the week.” Katherine herself is able to travel there a few times a week, and she said it’s been fantastic. “There’s been a lot of about this whole situation that I’ve really enjoyed,” she added. “I do so much travelling, so my reach is far, but the operations are very local.” She discussed having time to slow down, and continue to build the relationships that are so important to her business.
Next, Diana asked George what he thinks the travel industry might look like in a few months. “I think it’s difficult to predict anything beyond the next six to 12 months,” he said. “But I think overall this pandemic is going to act as an accelerator of change, and I think things that might have happened anyway are going to happen quicker.” He predicts that flight frequency will go down, with longer check in times, and planes on the ground longer for more cleaning. He also predicts a strong demand for low density accommodation, like private villas and safari camps. George anticipates that there will be more travel to remote places, and places less affected by coronavirus.
Before moving on to the Q&A, Diana, George and Katherine discussed what kinds of opportunities they see for the luxury industry, and how their local supply chains will help fuel those opportunities.
For more from each of our amazing panellists, including advice and the Q&A responses, watch the entire webinar by clicking on the button below. Then, register for the next episode in the webinar series on Thursday, 21st May, The Power of Resilience, here.
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