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Mike Flanagan

Mike FlanaganBiography

Mike Flanagan is CEO of Clothesource Limited, which provides apparel buyers and sellers throughout the world with the hard data they need to understand their competitiveness. Clothesource, with the world's largest collection of intelligence on clothing price comparisons, supplier capabilities and national resources, provides both buyers and sellers with advice and training on improving sourcing and selling skills.
Mike began his career in the advertising industry in the UK and Italy, before moving into retailing. Before setting up Clothesource, he held a number of senior international buying, marketing and operations posts in the retail divisions of groups such as Associated British Foods, British Petroleum and US Shoe.

Columns by Mike Flanagan

The Flanarant

A forthright take on the follies the world’s apparel buying community has to deal with, from Mike Flanagan, CEO of Clothesource – and his suggestions for putting them right.

Articles by Mike Flanagan

Amazon’s sales are thought to have grown by around 25% a yearWill Amazon take over the US apparel market? 23 July 2015

A prediction this week that internet giant Amazon could take the top spot for US apparel retailing by 2017 is a gross exaggeration, according to Mike Flanagan. But it does raise intriguing questions about Amazon’s possible impact on the clothing market.

A general unease about Bangladeshi production standards remains following the collapse of the Rana Plaza buildingTHE FLANARANT: When will Bangladesh take compliance seriously? 17 July 2015

Are Bangladesh’s garment factory owners about to destroy their extraordinary apparel success story? On the face of it, the question sounds absurd, writes Mike Flanagan. But neither the BGMEA nor the Bangladesh government have shown any real interest in developing a compliant garment industry.

"For onshore to have a future, it has to be profitable to retailers and manufacturers with properly paid workers"THE FLANARANT: Onshoring has labour compliance challenges too 23 June 2015

Can mass-market clothing be made legally - or ethically - in the UK or the US if it’s competing with low-wage production? Not according to Mike Flanagan, who calls Western labour practices "onshoring’s dirty secret."

The GPST has drawn up standards for the whole raw material and textile/clothing production chainCOMMENT: German sustainability scheme a "supersized" Accord 17 June 2015

While global trade programmes have stalled this month, the German-led Partnership for Sustainable Textiles has been making quiet headway on its promise to bring about “social, ecological and economic improvements all along the textile supply chain.” Indeed, it has turned into a supersized version of the Accord, suggests Mike Flanagan.

In 2014, AGOA countries accounted for just 1% of US garment importsCOMMENT: Will a stable AGOA help Africa's apparel industry? 9 June 2015

Re-energising US apparel imports from Africa has been among the recent concerns of US brands and retailers. But Mike Flanagan wonders if they’re missing the real problem: finding alternative apparel sources – in Africa or anywhere else – is a lot tougher than it looks.

Professional factories handle China’s competitive threat through higher productivity at reasonable payTHE FLANARANT: What’s really changed in Bangladesh? 7 May 2015

There’s a huge gap in Bangladesh between two business philosophies: those with realistic profit expectations, and those who are obsessed with controlling costs. And recent events have highlighted just how wide this gulf is, according to Mike Flanagan.

There are still a lot of barriers before a TPP agreement emerges from negotiations and gets approved by all the necessary legislaturesCOMMENT: How will TPP emerge from fast-track trade bill? 21 April 2015

A bipartisan package of bills introduced last week could pave the way for “fast track” negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But there are still a lot of barriers before a TPP agreement emerges, believes Mike Flanagan – and it more than likely won’t be the deal US apparel importers have pushed for.

The peaceful strike saw Pou Yuen workers protest inside the factory according to the IndustriAll unionTHE FLANARANT: Factory strike exposes Vietnam worker vulnerability 10 April 2015

A week-long strike at a Taiwanese-owned footwear factory in Vietnam has exposed a looming pension crisis and worker shortage in a country that many see as a key sourcing alternative to China.

India proposes to support manufacturing hubs in East AsiaTHE FLANARANT: Budget detail disappoints India garment makers 6 March 2015

Last May, India overwhelmingly elected Narenrda Modi as Prime Minster. While apparel factory owners thought he was “business friendly,” few showed much public support for his annual budget on 28 February. Buried in the fine detail, there’s a reason both they and their workers might also be annoyed.

Activists have launched a legal case against German discount retail chain KiKTHE FLANARANT: Is legal action the key to compliance? 10 February 2015

There is growing pressure from activists and governments to make Western laws apply to alleged non-compliance in developing country garment factories. But be careful what you wish for, advises Mike Flanagan, who points out that the most likely outcome is that countries will be blacklisted with no effort to improve standards.

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