What is the difference between Comex and Comex Professional Division?
We serve many markets and customers. Through the 4,700 Comex stores, we serve mainly the DIY sector, individuals, carpenters, and locksmiths. In Comex, one can find an entire portfolio of coatings, including waterproofing, wood coating, and industrial products. In the Professional Division, we visit our customers with over 1,000 sales reps in the country who work with our concessioners. We work with sectors during the customers' entire journey, from specification and operation of the projects to after the application, and everything between these steps. We work with B2B commercial in five main sectors: on new construction for housing and corporate, government, and the entire commercial and hospitality sectors. In B2B industrial, we have basic infrastructure in Mexico, which is oil and gas, energy, communications, and everything related to private and government companies generating all the resources within the country. Another one, is the entire manufacturing sector for every category in the country as well as the steel manufacturing sector. We are one of the most recognized brands in the country since we are the third-largest retail chain. We remain committed to the community and have donated to the health sector more than 1.5 million masks and thousands of liters of sanitizing and antibacterial gel that we manufacture in our facilities produced in line with WHO recommendations. This is not a one-part job, as government, private companies, and individuals all need to play a part to recover quickly and get through this difficult situation.
What new opportunities have emerged in 2020?
We foresee heavy investment in automotive, aerospace, electronics, textiles, health, rail, appliances, marine, transportation, energy, oil and gas, steel manufacturing, and many other sectors due to COVID-19. This represents a significant opportunity for asset protection in both construction and maintenance for the investment already in place in the country. Application services are one of the main opportunities we can provide to the Mexican market. Another important opportunity in the Mexican market is working in different product attributes that help the construction industry and make their jobs easier. We are creating environmentally friendly solutions that are water based, have low VOC content, and are lead free, insulation systems to reduce energy consumption, and water and fireproof coatings that meet LEED certification to reduce one's carbon footprint. This is a growing trend in construction and industry that we need to meet, as it will become increasingly relevant in the coming years. Another opportunity for us is the rapid and significant growth of ecommerce. An omnichannel experience will be necessary for many companies, including ourselves, and we need to adapt and create integral solutions based on customers' needs, with immediate and technical and commercial information in real time with payment methods and direct onsite delivery. We have more than 660 concessions that own more than 4,700 stores in the country, and we have more than 25,000 people working in these stores. The main challenge is to provide a safe environment for our employees and customers because we are an essential sector and remain open. This has truly been priority number one. More than 50% of the entire population is working from home. We are adapting our digital communications and platforms and learning to keep people motivated and focused. The second priority because we are an essential sector, is continuing with our operations. We need to adjust our manufacturing cycles, keep our stores open, and deliver millions of liters nationwide while having sector restrictions and non-operation activity from some suppliers, including raw materials and many others. Our finance, manufacturing, and operations team have become nimble, much more agile, more resourceful, and extremely creative. Demand for our products has only been growing; we have been growing more than 11% during this pandemic because people are investing in their homes.
What is your strategy to ensure the professional division grows in the coming months?
Most of the strategy is to remain close to our customers, not only physically but also in the digital aspect, as we need to accelerate our omni-channel experience. We are currently working on an app where our professional customers will be able to find out our portfolio of solutions and services from their phones. The second priority is to be with them in terms of technical advice. We need to provide fast, economic, and efficient solutions to make our customers' jobs and lives easier. In terms of credit, we help with commercial and pricing strategies, as the economy will be affected, and this will be a differentiator from the ones who do not work to assist their customers. We will have a clear promotion strategy for the rest of 4Q2020 and will launch innovations for specific products, such as fast-dry enamel. We launched an antibacterial paint in 2Q2020 that was initially due for 4Q2020 and was accelerated. The paint eliminates 99.9% of the four-most common bacteria and viruses in the country. It is not especially designed for COVID-19 but will be helpful for hospitals, schools, hotels, and housing. We have also included specific products in our portfolio, like an activator water for sanitizing purposes, as the commercial, hotel, offices, and government sectors that are working during the pandemic need to sanitize constantly. We also provide safety equipment to take these solutions to hotels, corporate buildings, and small businesses in order to create safe working environments. Another important area we focused on in 4Q2020 is the government's assistance to certain sectors to improve their facilities. One example is education, where the government provides financial assistance to be used for maintenance. Our Professional Division sales reps visit these schools and provide technical advice and specification advice in order to make the most of that aid and provide specific pricing promotions. In addition, the government extends credit for construction to promote the sector. With that credit, one is able to apply for new construction, remodelling, or small projects in their homes.