The end of lockdown: Act 3
What a pleasure to watch French boutiques open again and see that, despite the rain, your clients are there. The optimism has been palpable, and we’re delighted.
This third lockdown – even if it saved thousands of lives – will certainly have been the most violent for businesses deemed “non-essential” and for our brands. It was violent, unfair, and provoked disastrous consequences. The fact is that by keeping fashion businesses closed, the government caused long-term damage to our industry’s economy and vitality.
Though the Prime Minister now defends what he calls “reasonable and cautious optimism”, we know that it’s critical to persist in making our message heard since the struggle isn’t over.
Along with the Union Française des Industries Mode et Habillement (UFIMH), we’re continuing discussions with the government and public authorities and advocating that measures equal to the gravity of the situation be swiftly – and I’ll say finally – taken.
First there are the emergency measures, notoriously inadequate, concerning stock, rent, and even access to solidarity funds. Given all the huge holes in the safety net for our companies, these measures need to be reviewed and strengthened very rapidly.
Next is businesses’ financial health, which has been seriously damaged by the health crisis. Repayment schedules for state-guaranteed bank loans (PGEs) should be extended and, as suggested by Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, a relief scheme for the most affected businesses should be quickly introduced. Participative loans and a sectoral fund (which we have consistently asked for) should also be established and adapted to the reality of our businesses and help them improve their capital position.
And finally, the core of our concerns is, of course, economic recovery. We’re fighting for the plan to include stronger measures to support small and medium-sized businesses, especially brands, which are currently ruled out of a certain number of programs. They should get more support to make the best of the major changes the health crisis has accelerated, in particular buying habits and environmental and digital transitions.
It’s time to enact strong measures to help the cultural and creative industries!
Ready-to-wear businesses are ready to move forward. Over the last year, on their own and sometimes with help from DEFI and our Fédération, they have made considerable effort to accelerate their digital and CSR transformations. The health situation is improving, and consumption and international markets are moving again. An upturn is ahead. The government must be part of the economic recovery!
Pierre-François Le Louët – FFPAPF President