As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact economies across the globe, we caught up with some of the windsurfing brands to speak about their actual situation. We also caught up with Cesare Cantagalli, the head of I-99. I-99 is located in Pescara in Italy. Italy was the first European country strongly hit by the coronavirus. Since the beginning of February Italy has been fighting hard against the pandemic and strict curfews have been imposed.
Continentseven: How does the Coronovirus impact your business?
Cesare Cantagalli: We stay optimistic, as we are in the early phase of the reaction and all depends on the timing for the virus to pass-away and the evolving of the governments, regulations and restrictions. Up to date our logistic in Germany is fully operating and we are working closely with our distributors and the shops to support their online sales with direct delivery to their clients (drop-shipping door to door).
What are the main difficulties for the windsurfing business?
The timelines are the most difficult and critical issue at the moment. The system in our sector requires 12 months anticipation for brands to settle their estimated forecasts and commit to monthly production with a huge financial exposure sometimes 8 to 10 months before the products hit the end-consumer. When this chain collapses like now, then we have to accept to connect 2020 and 2021 as one collection. Perhaps in the future we need to have our end-consumer support the industry just like when you buy a car… with a time frame order of 4 months to receive your board and avoid only ON DEMAND BUSINESS: this will help the production chain and the brands to settle their orders with less over-estimations and saturation of equipment on the market. We also have to look at re-setting the discounting system with fixed figures.
Are the supply chains from Asia still working?
The Chineese supplier have stopped for a 2 months period, therefore they effected a full chain of suppliers with delay for rough materials effecting world-wide productions. Until the delivery companies keep operating, we will be active with our logistic and distribution services. The Air flights are now very limited therefore air freight deliveries have become more expensive in this moment but it is still a open choice for our clients.
Do you already see any damage in your company and for the whole windsurfing industry?
Of course we will all suffer from this unexpected circumstance, but we need to stay positive and ready for the re-start. We have to accept the situation and hope this will pass soon to limit the damages. For now the mission is stay healthy and co-operate with the system to let this pass asap.
Do you have a special strategy how to make it through this crisis?
We are a small company that can adapt and react accordingly as we are closely monitoring the situation. Me and my team are dedicated full time to keep positively running all the internal projects for the future developments and the study of new production process ideas and collection designs.
How do you see the chances to re-gain the loss of now?
This is the big concern and a concrete issue, but first priority now is to support the system so that the virus is cleared asap, and then we can draw economical actions. I trust our gouverments, who will support us and I hope the market will start again with awareness on values focused more on the privileges to just be out there sailing free again rather then specific technical details.
Will this crisis force a few companies in the windsurfing business to stop the production?
My hope is that we can all survive this moment. All depends on how long the virus will freeze social and economical activities. Plus on the financial support we will receive from EU community and individual country’s + on market expectations after COVID-19 has moved away.
Do you think the crisis is a chance for necessary changes?
Yes I believe we can take this example to deeply re-consider our individual values and perhaps slow down a litte our expectations and rhythm to such wide variety of products available to the market and with so high technical priority. We shall take a good look at in-novation against re-novation between shapes and looks. You know I dedicated my career and today my company Ceasare Cantagalli I-99 www.i-99.it to promote the sport from the base line upwards with a dedicated Italy Flavor Design Style which belongs to my experience and visions about the sport with a full dedication to its evolution. I fully supported the Windsurfer LT project since day one and we have dedicated years financing and developing the DUO Boards www.duo-boards.com which fully express a unique solution to make windsurfing more accessable and transport-friendly.
I think more awareness needs to also be focused on the future of competitions as to help simplify the system and minimize costs for the companies and riders. Boards registration regulations and restrictions are pushing the brands to too much commitments and over-spending with limitations and no returns on their investments. All these finances shall be focused more efficiently in to the sport promotion and evolution.
Thanks for the interview and all the best for the upcoming months!