From the Frontlines: Battling COVID-19

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From the Frontlines: Battling COVID-19

By Dan Ochwat - 03/23/2020

In countries like Italy, where many companies do big private brand business for U.S. retailers, travel bans and lockdowns present heavy challenges for companies looking to continue store brand business in the states. In response to the running “Frontlines” series, a few shared with Store Brands their experiences.

Please share how you’re handling business operations during the pandemic with Dan Ochwat, executive editor, Store Brands, at [email protected].


Paolo Sozzi, marketing and development, SoGeCo Advertising, Italy

It is really difficult for us nowadays. The whole country is now focussing on how to handle this awful situation. Everyone is forced to stay at home (school, universities, white collars...) and the manufacturers' employees are beginning to ask not to attend their place of work in order not to be infected. And even though the government is trying to preserve the food industry, it's really hard to get in touch with our contacts and prospects, as most of them are just trying to keep the supply-chain up and running.”

SoGeCo promotes food and beverage companies in Italy that provide private brand products to the U.S. In this time, the company is looking for ways to help export managers reach decision makers, since travel has been banned and industry shows canceled. “We are about to hold a web call with our agents in order to gather additional information about which communicational tools would be more useful in order to keep the business going.”


Jakob Zuegg, CFO, Freezeat, Italy

“Being Italian, you can imagine that this isn't an easy time for us. Three trade shows, of which one, ECRM, have already been canceled and who knows what the rest of the year will look like. We have lost out on many business opportunities and our country is suffering from the shut down to an extent that none of us could have imagined just a few weeks ago.”

Zuegg said he’s urging fellow Italian business owners to do things “you always say you’re too busy to do. Clean out your garage and finish building that treehouse with your kids.” 


Francesco Tran Van Lieng, president and chairman, Vinacacao Group, Vietnam

“Mentality-wise, fear factors are overwhelming across the country, and consumers are tightening their purchasing wallets.”

Lieng’s company produces chocolate and cocoa products for store brands in the U.S. “COVID-19 has hit retail businesses hard, as well as modern trade distribution like supermarkets, of which lots of suppliers are tremendously losing size and scales of sales.”