On the positive side, the vaccination process has started in few countries and slowly the pace will pick up momentum. Many hope that this will bring a halt to the medical rampage which was the hallmark of the year gone by. The focus throughout the year was on well-being and safety with most other issues, including businesses, taking a backseat.
Though the process of unlocking of markets and revival of business has begun, the relentless wave after wave of the pandemic has made the recovery an uphill task. Some industries, especially in the IT sector have ridden the wave for remote operations and work from home, to do roaring business.
Even within our textile industry, only the home segment has maintained a reasonable growth path, again riding on the work from home culture, which many believe is not going away anytime soon. The apparel segment has by and large taken a huge beating and overall performance has been downhill.
Few categories, mainly in the knit segment, have managed to garner continuous business, again because people are at home and for them comfort and well-being is the priority. Party and officewear can wait!
One of the biggest lessons of last year was that we are all in this together. Perhaps it is the first time in history that the whole world is facing the same ‘enemy’ and finding a solution is about collaboration, transparency and speed.
In fact, these three words have become the catchword for business across all sectors, today. Partnerships are being forged, data is being shared and the targets are short and focused. It is obvious that collaborative competitiveness is the way forward.
Our industry is no different and companies that had already started the collaborative journey have leveraged shared strengths along the supply chain to remain afloat and in many cases even grow.
Integrating supply chain for better agility is only one of the many examples of collaborative efforts and what can be achieved.
I can clearly visualise that 2021 will be a year where more debates will happen on the importance of data, data sharing and analysing data for growth. Every company in the supply chain has to be in sync with a common goal and that is only possible with transparency. Once that is achieved can there be true sustainable growth!
One has to understand that until there is economic security and sustainability, all other efforts are just efforts. After all we have to give financial security to every player in the chain so that there is a healthy environment of progress.
The reflection of the urgency for collaboration was seen at the various forums at ASW Marketplace recently. While one session talked about regional collaboration and why it is critical to find solutions to bottlenecks, rising above differences, the buyers’ session clearly gave the message that suppliers and buyers are dependent on each other and now the previously skewed balance of business can no longer be tilted towards the buyer.
Times are changing and so are the mindsets. The pandemic has only fast tracked the need to change. And all change comes from the willingness to accept that old ways of working are no longer relevant. What will the business look like, a year from now, is difficult to predict, but for sure it will be more ‘lean’, ‘agile’ and ‘sustainable’!