Analysts' Perspective - May 2003s

— May 01, 2003

What is the most innovative measure you have seen apparel companies taking to regain/maintain market share?

"Some of our clients, because of uncertainty in the actual needs for fall/holiday 2003 and [among] some of the larger firms for spring 2004, have taken very substantial bulk fabric positions. They are already merchandising their lines into these areas, to be able to take advantage of quick response. Whether it will be in fashion or core items, they would rather own fabric and be able to deliver into the market and be on the retailer's shelf, than take orders they cannot deliver."

Bruce Berton, Officer/Director, Stonefield Josephson Inc.

"By building vendor relationships from the top down and streamlining product flow. 'C-level' senior management must communicate that all vendors, even small ones, play important roles in customer satisfaction. When senior management leads the efforts, everyone realizes the importance of the program. I know of one apparel retailer which created a video example of how its suppliers' products move and are tracked through the supply chain. The video is presented to every vendor as an educational tool."

Jack J. Bonnanom Vice President, Sedlak

"Today innovation seems to revolve around creative sourcing. Finding fabric at the right price, and funneling it through the maze of sourcing options to take advantage of cheap labor, and to avoid quotas and duty seem to be where the action is today. This may mean buying Far Eastern fabric, shipping it to a Jordanian QIZ [qualified industrial zone] for cutting and assembly, or using a third-country fabric and assembling it in a Sub-Saharan African country that has a GDP of less than $1,500. Good sourcing managers are worth their weight in gold."

Charles Gilbert, Founder, Charles Gilbert Associates Inc.

"Outside the apparel industry, American Pacific Enterprises is a designer, importer and marketer of fashion-forward home furnishings. Greg Block, CEO, is aggressively developing a branded business through licensing (Nautica, Dockers and Liz Claiborne) in order to move into new channels of distribution. This allows them to increase market penetration in different retail segments and protect their margins, and it has been a spectacular success."

Josh Taylor, Partner, The Context Group Inc. 

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