Paolo Porett: Aid is required for us to survive


The aid will allow thousands of shops to survive at least for a while - Paolo Poretti: «Liquidity enters, but uncertainty remains»

 Paolo Porett: Aid is required for us to survive
«This is more than just a breath of fresh air»

Paolo Porett: Aid is required for us to survive

«This is more than just a breath of fresh air»

The vote for aid yesterday by the Grand Council will give «a shot of oxygen? said Paolo Poretti one of the many who requires more assistance for his shop and the entire sector to keep afloat. But - and he has reiterated this to us several times -it will not be the answer to all our issues. Paolo owner of a historic fashion shop in the center of Lugano and at the time president of the merchants society (Now lead by Rupen Nacaroglu) spoke with us a nigh on year ago (it was March 27) about the importance of bridging loans granted to companies and guaranteed by the Confederation. An aid that kept thousands of companies afloat throughout Switzerland during the first lockdown. Almost a year has passed, we said, and the non-essential shops are closed again. With Poretti we wanted to understand the difference between the two situations.

«When the Confederation aid came out we all came from a very difficult situation and the state reacted very quickly. It is something that surprised many. Now we are left with a further closure of a month and a half (hoping it is only a month and a half ...) and the situation is even more serious than last year. In summer, autumn and winter we worked less than in the past and this new closure comes when the reserves begin to run out».

There are wages to pay

Poretti does not hide it: there are those who at this moment are struggling to put together the liquidity necessary to pay salaries not for February, but even for January. Without state aid going forward we are in a very complicated situation. Doing so avoids layoffs and bankruptcies. But it’s not just this. A fashion store finds itself at this very moment having to plan the next winter season. Start preparing the orders to forward to the supplier. Without money it is not possible and the risk would be even surviving this difficult period, that of finding yourself with little goods in the window or in the warehouse. And so, in addition to the crisis, extreme uncertainty is also weighing on traders at the moment. «I’ll give you an example. Now I have to decide which products to buy. The quantity, the sizes, the color. If I dont’t I run the risk of not having the goods because I didn’t order them on time. But today I also run the risk of ordering too much because maybe, who knows, maybe we will be closed again».

The problem of the supply chain

And then the traders also risk having problems with the interruption of the supply chain. The fact that manufacturers, distributors or suppliers - regardless of whether they are in Switzerland or abroad fail to guarantee order coverage.

«The debt remains»

As seen, state aid comes almost a year away from the soft loans granted by the banks and guaranteed by the Confederation. Liquidity that, we imagine, was barely enough for some to reach today. «It depends a lot, underlines Poretti, from company to company. There are those who used up those credits in 15 minutes, who made them enough and who even started to repay them. But it is a debt. And a debt remains. They are repayable in 5 years and thinking of having to do it for hours would send many companies upside down».

«Not only the employees»

«Now, continues Poretti, it will be necessary to calmly understand how this new aid will arrive. And when. And it is important to understand even if, as during the first phase, it is planned to meet the owners of the companies. Not just to employees. Because even the owners of the shops, who often act as employees and certainly do not live thanks to the dividends of the company, have private expenses to face». Mortgage, rent, health insurance. Like everyone else.

Not being able to plan

Poretti then goes back to talking about the problems linked to uncertainty. «It is impossible to plan. Impossible to know if we will really reopen when it has been established. Impossible to know how the tourist season will go. Impossible to know how the market will recover. It is difficult to think of a strong recovery given that many have lost their jobs or, with reduced hours, have suffered a decrease in salary. And in my industry, it’s also hard to know if teleworkers will still need to buy clothing. It’s a new situation for everyone and figuring out how to get out of it isn’t easy. After such a difficult year, cash reserves (as long as there were any, ed) are starting to run low».

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