One might have thought that with most of the world unable to leave their homes except to get the absolute necessities in life, there would be little to report here. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of the industry colleagues that I speak to regularly have never been busier. Of course, we have had to re-purpose our businesses and rapidly adapt to a world in lock down. DRTV marketers, multichannel home shopping entrepreneurs, and ‘as seen on TV’ specialists are tenacious by their very nature and are able to thrive in the face of adversity. Whilst we don’t underestimate the scale of the challenges facing so many companies, there are significant numbers in our community who are achieving considerable success at this point in time.

ERA Global, our association, has also been working incredibly hard to ensure members’ needs are met. As you will have read from my recent update, we have had to postpone our Amsterdam conference until June 2021. However, this doesn’t mean we won’t see each other, a virtual conference is being arranged for this June instead. We shall even hold our gala awards, the EMMAs, the Oscars of our industry. So please don’t forget to vote online in plenty of time.

We have announced special membership discounts this year and next to acknowledge the uniquely difficult situation the pandemic has created. Yet at the same time we are planning further member benefits such as moving from one to two annual conferences, and possibly three, each year from 2021. Watch this space!

Meanwhile I have been asked to comment on how JML is faring during the pandemic. JML is the business with which I am proud to be associated, having been part of the company for over 26 years now (I know, it doesn’t look possible!). Well we’re doing OK and will come out the other side of this crisis stronger. Our retail distribution has been badly hit as I am sure will come as no surprise to others in this sector. However, our direct to consumer business has been doing well with big increases in numbers. I’m also pleased to say that many of our good friends around the world, our international partners, continue to place orders with us as they too see that there are plenty of people shopping from home and watching more TV than before. The most difficult aspect for JML is the fact that we have had to temporarily furlough staff, particularly those whose focus was retail, and it saddens us not to have these colleagues on the bus with us at the moment.

All of us across the business world are hypothesising about how consumer behaviour will evolve when the pandemic recedes, and what changes that have been made in recent weeks will become permanent. It’s as fascinating as it is daunting. Although I have the same crystal ball as you do, one thing I am absolutely confident about is this industry’s ability to continue to adapt, find new opportunities and create success.