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Retailers & Distributors Told To ‘Hang On’ As Government Moves To Prop Up Business

Consumer electronics and appliance retailers who are moving to online to drive business have been told they “Must innovate and iterate” to stay alive claims the head of the ANZ Bank.

ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott told the AFR “We can’t just fight the last war,” says Elliott. “We must innovate and iterate.”

Distributors and retailers who are looking to shut up shop and are struggling with the debt already in the channel are being told to “hang on in there as a dead Company is going to be hard to revive.

ChannelNews understands that 3 Melbourne based distributors will this week move to retrench staff, they are also facing what we have been told are “dire circumstances”.

Elliott said “We went into this crisis in remarkable health,” he says.

“We have never had the capital or liquidity we have now,” he adds, describing it as “incredible” levels of buffer.

While one million Australians have sadly lost their jobs, most are still working, Elliott points out, and the banks need to support them also.

He says the tools and strategies adopted by big business and policymakers during the GFC will not necessarily work against the coronavirus crisis.

“A lot of our customers are literally shellshocked,” Elliott says.

Asked about current Government handouts he said, “Stimulus is the wrong word — you can’t stimulate a business that is closed, and a lot of our business customers are closed,” he said.

Instead, we need to be focused on “isolation” and measures to help them through that.

Need to focus on debt, loans and tax, he says.

“The government is focusing on the right areas”.

‘Economies can recover, the dead can’t’.

“The Reserve Bank has been aggressive and unequivocal,” he says.

In terms of fiscal policy: “it started as predictable but has morphed into the unconventional”.

Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, says the industry is “staring down the barrel of sales that have gone down 75 per cent.”

He said technology related outlets and book stores appeared safe, for now, as demand for products assisting in the transition to work-from-home arrangements was on the rise.

Earlier today 1700 staff employed by retail group Brand Collective – that manages labels including Shoes and Sox, Clarks and Mossimo were told that they will be stood down at the end of the week as the government scrambles to assemble a wage-support package and the retail body predicts more store closures.

The head of the Australian Retailers Association supports the government’s package but called for greater clarity on rent support, predicting more closures in clothing, footwear and accessory stores as businesses struggle with falling foot traffic resulting from stay-at-home advice designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

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