When a crisis hits, cash is king
What are the key steps a CFO has to take in a crisis like this?
Verbeek: “When a crisis hits, you need cash to survive. Yusen Logistics Europe immediately took measures to safeguard its liquidity going forward. For instance, we identified which key customers are under enormous pressure – those in automotive, for example – and closely monitor their payments and credit risk. Where needed, we get in touch with customers individually to discuss mitigation strategies – of course, without disrupting commercial relationships as much as possible.”
Tytgadt: “Openness and communication is a key attention point for us. TH also sharpened its focus on credit control: we reviewed payment conditions and credit limits and overdues are now followed up very closely. In all this, it is key to speak to your suppliers and customers to discuss how we can get through this difficult period together. We involve the BU managers and site managers in this, as they know our customers best. Moreover, this openness and transparency is just as important in our communication with our employees. We don’t know when they’ll be able to return, so we don’t want to make any promises. We try to be honest and find ways to keep motivating them. After all, we want to keep them on board so that we are ready for the economic revival.”
Did you take any other measures, like renegotiating loans or postponing investments?
Tytgadt: “TH has always been a very cost-conscious organization, partly due to the low margins inherent to our sector. As such, it was not easy to find ways to cut costs. In line with the support measures decided upon by different governments, I did, however, reschedule the 3,000 leasing contracts we have with different banks and renegotiated payment terms between us and our main suppliers. Some supplier contracts were put on hold, though it is crucial for us to retain continuity in everything we do. In view of the substantial drop in turnover, we’re now trying to reduce our stock as quickly as possible.”