Head of Coop: Exiting crisis like passing through corridor full of switches

Alo Ivask on
Alo Ivask on "Otse uudistemajast" Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Exiting the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic will be a long process that will constantly require new decisions to be made in a highly changeable situation," CEO of Coop Eesti Alo Ivask finds when he compares the process to passing through a long corridor of lights and switches.

"Coming out on the other side of this crisis will not be like flicking a switch to restore normality. I would rather compare it to a long corridor with a lot of lamps and switches," Ivask told ERR's webcast "Otse uudistemajast" on Wednesday.

He said that it is difficult to say how long the exit could take, while it will definitely be necessary to constantly monitor the situation and make new decisions as you go along.

"It is important to have at least some kind of a plan for exiting the crisis. However, being able to change that plan every day if necessary is equally important. Reaction time and adjusting to new conditions will be key. It will be a process where one has to be ready to make changes again and again," Ivask said.

The CEO said the crisis has changed and will continue to change people's habits in terms of consumption and purchasing, spending free time as well as working, and that the post-crisis economy will have to take that into account.

"The business world is looking for answers right now. Companies that will adjust to these changes will survive. We will see new companies and business models that can cater to altered habits more successfully," he said.

Ivask also found that Estonia could exit the crisis stronger than it went in because it has experience of both free market crises and a larger transition from when we were adopting market economy after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"If there can be any talk of winning, those who adjust quicker and come up with new solutions will be victorious. Estonia has an advantage here as we still remember years of transitioning from the Soviet system to a market economy. We also have experience adjusting to crises, digital structures and low population density. If we remain hardworking and sharp, there will be something to gain from this crisis," Ivask said.

E-commerce grew as much in one month as it did in the past four years.

Ivask said, based on the experience of Coop shops, how the crisis has boosted e-commerce volumes.

"We can say without exaggerating that growth over the past four weeks has been the same as over the past four years. It is true that e-commerce is operating at capacity," he admitted.

The CEO said that while higher e-commerce volumes will remain after the crisis, ordinary shops are not going anywhere.

"We will definitely have a new balance point after the crisis. If e-commerce used to be a convenience, it has become the norm now. But I believe people will still need to get out of the house, go shopping and eat out and meet with friends," head of Coop Eesti said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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