Today we catch up with Craig Gertenbach, Fanatic Brand Manager, to speak about how Fanatic will make it through the corona crisis and deals with the actual situation. The Fanatic head quarter is located in Europe in the south of Germany. Germany has shut borders and put a halt on public life by closing non-essential shops and by telling people to ‘stay at home’. The restrictions can change daily and nobody knows what the next days will bring. Let’s hope all restrictions will be slowing the epidemic.
Craig Gertenbach – Pic: Klaas Voget
Continentseven: How does the Coronovirus impact the windsurfing industry?
Craig Gertenbach: Most of our European shops are closed/closing, at the peak spring pre-order delivery time, it could not be worse for us – we have our International Central Warehouse quite full and more boards on the way, as do the shops. However right now the focus is of course on the human cost, not financial impact.
What are the main difficulties for the windsurfing board business?
As mentioned, financing the stock until they/we can re-open, will be the hardest part for our shops and ourselves, whilst at the same time we of course have plenty of running costs with staff, financing, event prepayments even if cancelled, magazine ads placed, R&D etcetc. So it’s quite hard to just put everything on ice, when turnover will be zero for a few months.
Are the supply chains from China or Thailand still working?
Yes, Thailand did not have any delays and 100% of our windsurfing boards come from there, our foil production in China had some delays, as did our SUP suppliers – but they are back working again – but this does not help us if the front end, ie the shops, are closed, because we cannot just keep bringing stock in if we can not send it out.
Do you already see any damage for Fanatic?
Obviously this has all happened quite quickly, so the financial impact is only just starting, more importantly and in general is to minimise the risk of infection to our staff/their families, many of whom are now in home office/working shifts to reduce contacts to others. Presume other brands are in a similar situation and will also be affected long term yes.
“The environment is getting a short and welcome respite from the pollution effects of mankind, hopefully at least something positive comes out of it.” (Craig Gertenbach about the corona crisis)
How will you make it through the crisis?
We will be trying to cut costs wherever possible, but at the same time we have to be sure to support everyone in our business who depends on us for survival – a delicate compromise for sure. We are working on strategies and implementing them daily at the moment with meetings and information flowing daily within the company. Boards and More does have the advantage of sound financial backing and support, which will most certainly be our biggest asset, as it has been in the past too, with leading brands in all segments, we are optimistic about getting through this crisis.
How do you see the chances to re-gain the loss of now later? April, May and June are very important months for sales in central Europe.
Indeed, those months are very important in general for events, sales, holidays, so everyone is affected including the customers of course. I’m sure everyone is hopeful that the virus can be defeated by the mid to end of summer, but the experts vary somewhat in their estimations of when this may be. So we’ll see what happens, some brands, including ourselves, will be forced to reduce the production somewhat. But we expect once this is all over, that people as always will want to be enjoying their favourite sports and activities, sooner than later.
Is the crisis a chance for changes?
Well, if we see that despite the terrible human cost, to mainly older persons who have helped build the benefits we enjoy as a society today – that the environment is getting a short and welcome respite from the pollution effects of mankind, hopefully at least something positive comes out of it. That people may consider to travel less/consume less and focus more on enjoying what they have locally/refocus their priorities on family and health, instead of chasing money and careers.
Unfortunately I think it will definitely mean a reset for many things in windsurfing, but every change brings opportunity, in all aspects of our sport. One thing is for sure, people are most certainly going to be more stoked about even average windsurfing conditions when they get out on the water again. In the meantime, wishing everyone a safe time with their families, do your best to help slow the curve and hope to see you on the water soon!
Thanks for the interview and we wish only the best for the upcoming months!