Much has been said about the strong economic effects the current Covid-19 pandemic has caused in the world. Consequences are clear when we see in the streets the amount of businesses and small companies going out of business since the beginning of the lockdown last year.
However, the effects of the virus in the business environment differ greatly between the various production sectors. Truth is that there are sectors more affected, and others for which this pandemic represents a smaller threat, and it has even made them open up to new opportunities.
With regards to Sinaloa, ESPEJO Magazine spoke to outstanding business owners and high-level executives, whose companies generate thousands of jobs in the state. The purpose was for them to share their growth perspectives from a 2020-2021 balance.
These interviewed agreed that 2020 was a year of accelerated political, economic and social transformation, where the decision was made to prioritize projects in agreement to the circumstances. For the upcoming year, their perspectives are that these adjustments on commercial plans will continue in force, until well into 2021.
Overall, we can see that these companies from Sinaloa, all from various sectors, were able to anticipate the changes in consumer behavior during the pandemic context, by expanding their commercial and business supplies, and achieving an adjustment in their services.
On the other hand, a sector which kept going non-stop all the time, as it was considered as essential to society was the farming sector. For this subject we addressed Georgius Gotsis, executive at Veggies from Mexico, a community of farmers working in compliance verification of food safety standards, based in Culiacán.
“Sinaloa is a high exporter of produce. When the pandemic arrived, controls were reinforced because this sector could not stop. These are essential businesses and they had to continue feeding Mexico; and in our case, Sinaloa, feeding the world. Protocols for the Covid situation were initiated in farming companies within our organization, to ensure they were in compliance.”
Georgius admits that when restaurants first started closing both in Mexico and in the US, there was a certain degree of concern in this sector; however, this industry managed to considerably grow, especially due to the increase in the demand for fresh vegetables in supermarkets.
“People start cooking at home. So, a very positive market situation starts happening for fresh foods, mostly tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, jalapeno peppers, and pumpkins. The demand grows despite the circumstances.”
He states that after this basic formula of supply and demand, a successful farming season was achieved in the state.
The beverage industry had the same luck. This was assured by businesswoman Edna Fong, Jaztea CEO, who states that the company was fortunately within the unaffected sectors.
“There were very affected sectors such as restaurants and tourism; but as opposed to the food and beverages sector, it was one of the increased sectors. The difficult part was being in compliance with all the guidelines and protocols, which were confusing at first.”
However, what really hit them hard was to leave workers with vulnerable diseases out. Despite of this, she assures that no one was fired and they continued paying the same salaries.
Likewise, the “Jaztea Girl” forecasts by 2021 they will continue under the same premises as in 2020, but with a bit more certainty. She informed that due to the pandemic, they accelerated two channels in order to adjust to the situation, such as Delivery and home delivery (though E-Commerce).
“By 2021 we will open new distribution centers; we are planning to open 3 more for this year, which would involve creating new jobs,” she stated.
In the case of Coppel, we spoke to Ariadna Gil, National Marketing Manager, who let us know about how they adjusted so that they would not be overtaken by the circumstances.
“For Coppel, it was a year with a great deal of acceleration in our digital transformation. Being a store with so many products are services, we were a huge support to our clients, fortunately”.
“What did Coppel demand of us? Activating online shopping. The ability for our clients to make installments and request loans online”.
The young executive explained that many projects which were only ideas, managed to see the light very quickly during the pandemic, whereas in stores they adopted the on-site health protocols. She outlined the “Mejora tu vida desde casa” Initiative (“Improve your life from home”), a concept used during the highest months of the pandemic.
“Listening to the opinion of new clients was so important. We were constantly monitoring the digital conversation and compiling market studies to understand their situation and their needs from Coppel, issues that clients were requiring. Many of the campaigns had to be modified”.
Ariadna stated that the “Mejora tu vida desde casa” was nothing but an invitation to leverage on the products and services Coppel provided from the comfort of your home.
In the case of the insurance sector, Francisco Zazueta, GNP Insurance Agency Manager states that 2020 was, to a certain degree a positive year to them, as insurance is an item that tends to grow during crisis scenarios.
“In cases like these, people are more vulnerable and more aware of buying insurance for their health, their life, their things, their cars, their businesses and their health insurance. Now in 2020, the pandemic situation increased the amount of insurance policies, especially medical expenses, experiencing a double digit growth”.
The executive said that this condition was observed not only in the GNP company, but in all the insurance companies in the country. This is due to the fact that, through a wide consensus, the various insurance companies operating in Mexico made the ‘right on time’ adjustments they considered necessary, in order to cover themselves and their policyholders from Covid consequences.
“On the side of insurance companies, there was that advantage and good call to provide more coverage; and on the market side, the sensitivity of buying health insurance. That made an impact for this sector, for it to grow 40-50%”, he highlighted.
Despite the fact that the four previous companies anticipated adversity by adjusting themselves to current context conditions; unfortunately, one of the sectors that was most visibly affected is restaurants.
We discussed the subject with the Pun Hung family, creators of Tai Pak restaurants. To them, the drive of their sector has not yet been recovered.
Luis Enrique Pun states that the pandemic period has been very long, but as they opened the To Go Service, they were lucky enough to continue in operations.
“Of course, it does not make up for the full sale, but it allows us to have income to do payroll and all the commitments, which no governments, neither federal, state or local were sensitive about,” he regrets.
The businessman of Chinese origin reproached the authorities for not being empathetic to restaurant owners as tax payments were not flexible, and all they wanted was time extensions.
“Overall, there was no program suited for the situation in hand, then there’s that, and while trying to look for friendly face; the companies still remaining alive are fortunate enough to do so, as we continue in operation despite of governments. We do not owe them any favors”.
Luis Enrique Pun Hung outlined that all the above has been thanks to the support of collaborators and clients, so they will continue increasing their quality and operations for the new circumstances that will continue this year.
By: Josué David Piña