• GTW Author

Coronavirus Rocks Trade

The outbreak of Coronavirus, unparalleled in modern times, has swept the globe – forcing trade shows to be cancelled, staff to work from home and global trade to slow.

The first large impact on the industry was the cancellation of the IWA OutdoorClassics international trade show that was due to be held in Nuremberg, Germany between March 6th to 9th. At this time the outbreak had only just begun. The IWA show was then closely followed by the South African HuntEx show and the SSAA Shot Expo, due to take place in Australia.

Outside of China, where the outbreak first began, it was northern Italy to suffer next with a large outbreak. This area is a historical firearm manufacturing hotbed and the companies that we have spoken to from the region are working from home but managing to continue business in some capacity.

Paolo Viti, COO at Italian giant Benelli, has made the decision to close his manufacturing plant but many of the company’s sectors including human resources, research and development and marketing are now smart working from isolation.

“My commitment has been to ensure the protection of all of us by adopting all the safety measures prescribed by the authorities,” said Paolo.

“At this moment, however it is necessary to stop, to be able to restart together as soon as possible and stronger than before!

“Now we look to new adventures, staying at home, reading to open our mind to new ideas to be implemented in the near future, let’s go beyond our horizons and never stop with the imagination.”

Elsewhere in Europe the virus has affected German Precision Optics. Surujh Roopnarine, business development manager at the company, told Gun Trade World that the cancelling of trade shows will have an impact on all businesses in our sector.

“The situation is difficult but we are trying to work through it as best possible. As usual I was planning on attending IWA in March. Our company would have been exhibiting for the third year in a row and as of now we plan to attend and still exhibit in September.

“September is not an ideal time to exhibit,” continued Surujh. “For most Europeans, especially those in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, etc… their personal lives will be interrupted as many people and companies have their summer holidays during most of August. Considering you need a few weeks minimum to prepare and organise IWA this will be challenging.”

“Another aspect is that many countries open their hunting seasons during this time or are at the height of their selling season prior to hunting season opening. So, from both the private and business aspects, it is not an ideal time.

“Considering that more and more events are being postponed and re-scheduled in April, May and June you never know what may come by September. We are hopeful that the European and global situation will be more under control at that time but it is a big question mark.

“One major issue we have faced is the loss of a platform for meeting with our customers, partners and friends,” added Surujh. “We use IWA as the medium for presenting new products and meeting new potential customers. Our exhibition and product display is an important messaging tool and provides a great support in addition to phone, email and social media communication.

“Considering that not only IWA, but all shooting and hunting related regional shows across Europe and the world are impacted over the next two to three months, the impact is nothing but negative. I think that on an end-user level the possibility to ‘escape’ to nature will still be open to most and can be a reprieve from the daily stress this pandemic causes, but business will be slowed. The hunting and shooting sports market are not immune (unfortunately) to greater global economic factors.”

In the Czech Republic, large company CZ, which manufacturers firearms that are used all over the globe, is also experiencing difficulties.

Asked if the company was going to attend the revised IWA show in September, Jakub Sondel, the corporation’s SMO, commented: “Probably yes, but we will see how the situation evolves. For the same month, we have also planned other projects, other fairs, other events. No one could have known what would happen.

“The decision to move the fair was made a few days before the opening, when all companies, including us, had everything ready for the show. But in cases like this no decision-making process is perfect. The later date means that at least some of the efforts won’t go in vain. Despite all these inconveniences and losses, the decision not to hold the show on the traditional date was right, considering the further development of the situation. For the following years however, we would prefer the show to be held on same dates as it was before.

“At the moment, it is first and foremost necessary to protect the health and life of employees, colleagues and all citizens in general. We have to ensure a functional company, functional economy, functional society. Time will show what happens in September, we will respect the decisions of the competent authorities.

“Our government and company has implemented very strict safety and security measures to minimise the risk of coronavirus infection. We focus on prevention and, thanks to the high internal discipline, we do our best to keep our company and employees safe, clean and free of infection. From the perspective of production, which now runs at a standard pace, we do not feel any restrictions at this moment, except some minor delivery issues. However, we have to wait for the overall impact.”

Whilst many countries struggle with the impact Coronavirus is having, the US is reporting a huge spike in firearm and ammunition sales as fears of possible social unrest are prompting some to turn to firearms as a form of self-protection.

Sales were particularly noticeable in North Carolina and Georgia, which experienced a leap of 179 per cent and 169 per cent respectively. Other states with hefty upsurges included Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New York.

It is thought that many manufacturers and therefore retailers will struggle to keep up with demand, particularly if manufacturing facilities have been temporarily shut down.

- Gun Trade World will continue to monitor the situation so please look out for updates via our website and social media channels.

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