The Key Word in Manufacturing and Retail Today is Nimble…
The demise of the UK high street and some of its long established retail players has made for some very uncomfortable reading of late. Woolworth’s closed its doors for the very last time back in 2009 and the years that have followed have been brutal; to the end of the line for Bhs to multiple store closures at M&S.
Now, House of Fraser (HoF) is in the headlines with suppliers left counting the cost after the department store chain collapsed into administration. According to documents from administrators EY – House of Fraser owes its suppliers £484mln. Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has agreed to buy the HoF chain however Sports Direct is not obliged to pay the unsettled suppliers leaving many in a very vulnerable situation.
Elsewhere Laura Ashley saw annual profits drop as it continues to close stores across the UK, while Debenhams issued its third profit warning this year, blaming “increased competitor discounting and weakness in key markets.” It’s tough out there and clearly a new approach to needs to be implemented.
The CEO of FashionCapital / Fashion Enter Jenny Holloway explains,
“Manufacturers can not expect to be fed we have to prove our worth and likewise the retailers need to be honorable and work with us and not find a fault when times are hard to reduce commitment and stock! My previous experience as a senior buyer for a well known high street company comes into play here I am afraid to say! When conducting final AQLs you can always find faults but whether the faults are critical or non critical is the real question.
“However, by offering a design service, by being compliant and by being responsive to changing consumer demands then manufacturers have a unique place in fashion today. We can be the very backbone for retailers providing newness in just 3-4 weeks for new styles and for repeats just two-weeks.
“We have an excellent relationship with ASOS.com’s buyers who are the most forward thinking and creative buyers that we know currently in manufacturing. They understand that we need a pipeline of orders and they constantly work with us on fits, seals, production schedules and planning. They also know we are really honest and if we do have a problem we tell them. I have this principle in life ‘that your word has to be bond’ (thanks to my father!) and the company operates this way. Mistakes are inevitable it’s how we deal with them that counts.
We are also totally transparent using our unique Galaxius system that shows who is making what garment and when! There is nothing to hide and everything to gain by being transparent so retailers can trust us. The last thing they need is brand damage by unethical sourcing practices.
“So by being nimble means we are flexible. By being flexible means that we can literally swap and change the production lines (on sealed garments of course) so we can maximise sales for the retailer. No excess stock, no mass discounting but a nimble and responsive relationship between manufacturer and retailer.”