Thursday, May 21, 2009

訂單等了又等

有時見到那些經濟數據,多反映宏觀環境,若果真正細看,便知個別行業的境況,好像最近同美國有生意往來的朋友談起,似乎他那邊業務範疇的生意卻未見好轉,仍然要吊鹽水保命。

話說他同美國道指和標普500指數成分股Home Depot做生意,卻遇上難題。Home Depot這間企業在全美擁有2,238間分店,銷售建築材料、五金甚至戶外用品等,差不多是一間巨型金屬超級市場,一間分店面積閒閒地平均逾10萬平方呎,想修理家居,所需材料真的可以用一站式方法解決。

Home Depot份首季業績便顯示營業額跌了9.7%,同店銷售更跌10.2%之多,盈利雖升44%,但不計特殊項目,純利實質倒退15%。連主席兼行政總裁Frank Blake都話市場仍承受經濟壓力,故維持09年度營業額下跌9%的預測。

朋友話,去年金融風暴爆發前,從生意來看,已感覺到美國經濟出現問題的徵兆,因為Home Depot去年初曾經落單要近10萬件戶外用品,自然要加班趕工,以便準時落船付運,豈知生產近尾聲時,對方竟然話,原來倉庫還有大量存貨,所以要將訂單大減逾兩萬件!前面是一個大客,做廠的有甚麼議價能力呢!面對這種晴天霹靂的場面,只好想辦法處理生產過剩的存貨,最後選擇連訂單之外的存貨也付運過去,期望對方銷售理想的話,會直接加貨。

存貨多,不單對資金回籠構成壓力,生產商還要支付額外成本,像租用倉庫擺放,朋友話單是當地倉務費用,每月便花數以萬美元計,對比白繳倉租,可能讓零售商減價促銷賣掉存貨,經營效益可能更佳,但零售市道欠佳,人減又你減,試問這招又怎會有吸引力呢?

一年過去,當然希望新一年會好轉,本來按照傳統,買手和採購代表也會出席年初舉行的展覽會,傾傾新一年的合作。朋友解釋,一般而言,了解產品後,大客多會在3、4月間先給予一個預測訂單數字,讓其在5至7月生產期有工開,但今年情況特殊,首先大客早已趁商品價格回落,率先叫減價,起碼要重回07年水平,代表去年的加幅已經統統蒸發。

最大問題是,竟然直至本月中,還沒有對方的訂單指示,難免有點擔心,由於有些基本戶外用品變化不大,最多是更換顏色而已,故只好邊開工邊等訂單,但又憂慮訂單量最終與生產量距離太遠,唯有實行「拖」字訣,將生產時間放慢,奈何工廠採用件計薪酬策略,員工發覺工作量下降,薪酬減少,恐怕人手流失情況也會加劇,可謂四面受敵。

這還不特止,朋友話有新產品想打入美國市場,儘管已申請進行測試,可惜大客遲遲還沒有通知,展開實驗室的測試程序,因為要經過一輪嚴格測試工作,取得證明才可,擔心難以趕及生產和付運,到時又少了一筆收入,生意將面對多重打擊。

(5月21日刊於《am730》)

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