Cosmetics Europe said the ‘Working Together’ platform had been launched to provide a “one-stop shop” on information about the ongoing crisis, particularly the impact and response being seen within the European cosmetics industry. The platform collated links to important EU guidance and policy documents, offered statements and detail on European Commission actions and provided updates on Member State, collaborative and individual business responses to coronavirus (COVID-19).
“This is an opportunity for the general public to understand a little bit more about what our industry is engaged in,” said John Chave, director-general of Cosmetics Europe.
Chave told CosmeticsDesign-Europe it was also, of course, an important portal to raise issues facing industry, like export restrictions and supply chain considerations.
“It’s a resource developed to be useful,” he said. “…I hope it also serves to raise the profile of the collaborative struggle against COVID-19.”
Collaboration during coronavirus ‘extremely important’
Asked how important a collaborative response was to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Chave said: “Extremely important, for several reasons. Firstly, I think there’s an ethical question here, by which I mean this is a massive challenge and a tragedy; it’s not the time for traditional lobbying or traditional elbowing for space or jockeying for position which goes on in the normal run of things when you confront normal issues. These are not normal times. It calls for a different mentality and way of working, and part of that is cooperation.”
Cosmetics Europe was in regular contact with other worldwide cosmetics associations as part of this, he said, along with those beyond cosmetics. “We’ve been in contact with our colleagues elsewhere, including in chemicals, food and drink and detergents,” he said.
Secondly, Chave said collaboration was important because response efforts were always less effective without knowledge on how other sectors were responding. “We’ve been talking very intensively with our colleagues in detergents, for example, because they produce biocides which are important for disinfection and we’re producing hand sanitisers. There needs to be some common understanding between the associations.”
“…I think cooperation is crucial.”
Beauty industry can be ‘proud’ and re-focus on learnings
For now, Chave said industry could be “proud of its contribution to confronting the virus and stopping the spread of infection”.
Numerous companies, large and small, he said, had adapted and shifted production to plug hand sanitiser shortages, for example, which had proved hugely important.
“On the negative side, of course there’s a lot of worry about the economic situation, particularly if you look at countries like Italy, France and Spain where you have multinationals but also a strong and traditional, fairly thriving, SME sector. One can only speculate about the real impact, but I think it will be tough, at least until the turnaround comes,” he said.
Whilst the precise effects of the crisis wouldn’t become clear for some weeks, Chave said industry ought to, however, remain optimistic and focus on what had been learned.
Once lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, he said it was likely there would be a “strong kick of consumer expenditure” which would help industry “move forward fairly quickly”.
“We have to remember that there’s nothing about this crisis which has fundamentally changed the way that consumers feel about our products, in the sense that they still value them; they still want to buy them. And therefore, we must be optimistic about the future economically, if perhaps a little better prepared for when this very difficult kind of situation happens again.”
Preparedness, Chave said, was the biggest learning to take stock of. “I think there will be some reflections within industry about preparing for the next [crisis] that comes along and ensuring disruption is minimised.”