Given the grave economic consequences caused by COVID-19, Monaco Tribune has set out to meet some of the Principality’s young entrepreneurs to discuss their perception of the current crisis, the challenges they have faced and the possible innovations to overcome such hardships. Last week, we spoke to Alexandre Maniloff, Founder of the communication agency Kromyk and former President of the Young Economic Chamber of Monaco (a branch of the Junior Chamber International).

While Marion Soler succeeded him this year, Alexandre Maniloff continues to hold an important place within the Young Economic Chamber of Monaco. Like Antoine Rey, another member of the association who spoke about the impact of the crisis on his company, Alexandre Maniloff showcased his company, Kromyk, while outlining the challenging time that COVID-19 has caused.

A member of JCI since 2014, Alexandre Maniloff has risen through the ranks, becoming president last year. “As soon as I joined the Junior Chamber, I wanted to take on some of the most important roles,” he said. “It’s been a fabulous year as president, but also a very, very intense one. I have learned a lot on a human level, balancing my role as president with that of a business leader. It’s been a positive experience for me.”

Founded nine years ago, Kromyk is a “partly events-driven” communication agency. Its work is divided into three areas: graphic design communications, printing various advertising media and improving customer visibility. “New projects should come along in the coming years with takeovers of companies with specific services, particularly in the print or branding area,” adds Alexandre Maniloff.

Based in Monaco, Kromyk works with Buffagni and CO.GE.MAT but also with French clients. “For example, we have a large group of mutual insurance companies, with more than 300 agencies, for whom we manage their communications strategy,” he adds.

We realised that our working habits could change

Has Covid-19 disrupted your business?

The beginning was bizarre. No one expected it. When I look back on the talks I was in, up until March 14th or 15th, we were talking to customers as if we were going to see them the next day. All of a sudden it all stopped. We had to adapt, change everything in the company. Put employees out of work, reorganise our agenda, all with everyone suddenly working from home. Fortunately, we were able to continue working remotely. Business slowed down quite a bit. It wasn’t easy to manage, we had to bounce back quickly. Our strength lay in our textile production. Our manufacturers changed course, making masks, which allowed us to supply masks to our customers. But it’s true that, during practical communications projects, you realise that people are in retreat, almost on the defensive. It’s not simple; the big projects we had this summer and for the new school year are on hold, as everyone is trying to think about how to recreate business while waiting to see how the situation will evolve. For the moment, businesses are putting their communication strategies on hold.

Have you restructured at all within the company?

Everyone started working again. Some people continued to work from home, but we realised that our working habits could change. Everyone was putting both feet on the brakes, claiming that working from home wasn’t easy to set up, that employees weren’t ready. But in the end, everything is going very well, production is the same, talks with clients are the same, thanks to easy-to-use tools. I don’t have any problem making someone work from home. But I also realised that after two months, employees were asking to come back on site. Working from home is interesting, but only from time to time. The general workflow is not the same and communication is faster at the office, that goes without saying.

What are Kromyk’s main areas of development in the coming years?

Our priority today is to keep our production site by proposing new products and incorporating new structures with real use, that will complete the range we offer. The objective is to respond to our customers’ issues by responding to them more quickly. For this, we would like to internalise the textile printing part. These are the two major axes that we want in-house because until now we have been doing it via subcontractors.

We are currently living in uncertain times

Do you feel that the communication sector has been particularly affected?

Definitely. As you can see, our clients are thinking about not spending too much money, limiting costs and keeping their comms projects small. They are simply worried about the future. This second wave, which we all dread, is frightening. We are currently living in uncertain times, and communication agencies are hugely impacted by it. We have to adapt to get our heads above water and keep our employees by keeping our business going.

Is the context different in the Principality, especially with Monégasque companies?

Even if we have been a bit less affected by this crisis, businesses are still worried. There are no exceptions. I can see this with yachting companies, which had some great communications strategies have now put them on stand-by. They are currently considering whether or not to relaunch these campaigns. Others are less impacted. There are two facets. The construction industry, for example, is continuing to grow, allowing us to relaunch their textile-based and comms strategies. As for others, they have tended to slow down their business.