An interview with Chocolatier – Pierre Ledent: The impact of the Coronavirus on business

Although some businesses have resumed operations, concerns about the coronavirus are far from over. Many offices remain closed, travel continues to be on hold, and employees are still choosing to work from home. So, how are brands managing during this difficult time? While many brands are struggling, other brands are prospering.

To learn how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting businesses in China, Pierre Ledent, the Belgium-born Master Baker and winner of two International Gold Medals for his skills and the luxury chocolate brand that bears his name, shares his point of view.

How has the coronavirus outbreak impacted your business locally and globally?

The impact of the outbreak has been soft. Pierre Ledent expanded into China slowly, and since the company has not been present in this market for a long time, the entire structure was not affected. Globally, it was Japan. Based on business this month, especially because of Valentine’s Day, sales have been very good, reaching 95% of goals. Compared to other companies that lost a great deal of money, my business had a few bad days following the news of the outbreak, but has been fortunate that sales sustained as did our reputation.

What measures has your business taken to mitigate the losses caused by the outbreak?

To mitigate losses during the outbreak, specifically for Japan, I signed on boxes to help my partner maintain business and continue being successful. Also, social media has been a big part of sustaining our brand. Our presence on Twitter, #pierreledent, has enabled the company to sell very well in Japan. For China, I am monitoring the situation carefully. At this time, the best option is to wait.

How long do you think it will take for your business to recover from the coronavirus outbreak?

For Japan, the impact was minimal so the time it will take to recover will be minimal. And, next year we’ll buy 3-5% more. Continuing the company’s expansion in China will depend on when we are able to sell and what products we can slowly start adding to end the year successfully.

Is your business putting contingency plans in place for the repercussions resulting from the outbreak?

It is not necessary that our business put contingency plans in place because of the coronavirus outbreak. Pierre Ledent just starting to sell in China, and if needed, we can subcontract one part of the business. Also, our presence on social media is booming. Our consumers continue to engage with us and share positive comments and photos, which help us generate more business.

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, is your company modifying its marketing and sales strategy?

We’re modifying our marketing and sales strategy just slightly as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The biggest part of our sales efforts was online before the Covid-19 disease spread, and it will continue to be online once the situation subsides. However, our approach to marketing will proceed with a keen eye to world economic changes due to the outbreak, and we’ll adapt to the situation as necessary to stay competitive.

How confident are you that China will recover from the coronavirus outbreak and your business will flourish in the future?

I am confident that China will recover, but we must wait and see how the situation unfolds and how the world economy is affected. I am also confident that businesses will be successful, but it may take some time. The coronavirus outbreak is not so different from other outbreaks, like SARS and Ebola, which we were able to overcome. But, coronavirus is in the early stages and too much is still unknown about it, so we must wait and watch what happens.