The end of the multi-fibre agreement quota system this year saw both European and North American retailers and brand owners scramble to line up Far Eastern suppliers. Since we have been aware for ten years that 2005 would see a major shift in trade patterns, it seems difficult to believe that this change came to a surprise to anyone. Now is the time for fashion companies trading with suppliers in China and the Far East to review their current supply chain strategies. Prudent retailers will want to balance the lower prices they can obtain in China with the increased lead times and additional cost of managing longer and more complex supply chains.
The answer for some retailers is a multi-source approach: mixing goods from countries with shorter lead times, such as Eastern Europe, Turkey and North Africa, with cheaper product bought further afield. Equally, there are cost savings to be gained from bypassing sourcing agents and buying direct. Standard, web-based information systems are vital to this business model. They make it possible to manage in a more complex business environment by simplifying and speeding administration, improving forecasting, and above all increasing the visibility of goods in the supply chain.
VICKY HYDE, global industry solutions director, fashion, INTENTIA INTERNATIONAL. T: +31 (0) 33 451 2200