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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

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.

Last year, shoppers in the UK got just 17% of their clothing from an online orderTHE FLANARANT: Online apparel retailing: Amazon-ly unviable? 12 January 2015

Despite the hype, it's amazing how insignificant the internet is on the garment trade, writes Mike Flanagan. While every clothing brand and retailer uses the web for moving, receiving and monitoring information, relatively few clothes are sold this way.

Garment prices donTHE FLANARANT: Has low-cost labour really reached a tipping point? 4 December 2014

Low-income workers are likely to dominate the global garment-making workforce for a long time yet, Mike Flanagan believes, despite recent forecasts that the number of low-cost countries is dwindling.

The ZDHC Group is focused on cleaning up textile supply chains (Photo credit: Qiu Bo/Greenpeace)THE FLANARANT: Toxic discharge issue hits a tipping point 11 November 2014

In the past six years apparel buyers have moved from avoiding commitment on toxic discharge to likely toxic-free production by the end of the decade. And China has moved from opposing legislation on hazardous chemicals to introducing a legally-enforced programme for eliminating them. Has the industry finally hit a tipping point? asks Mike Flanagan.

Western voters - and shoppers - are seeking tangible benefits from free trade dealsTHE FLANARANT: Apparel lobbyists add to trade barriers 9 October 2014

A decade-long enthusiasm for cutting trade barriers has come to an end, with sceptical electorates now seeing more downsides than upsides. But trade lobbyists continue to chase new barrier cuts, or defend concessions that have already reached the end of the road.

Weighing up a win-win ideaTHE FLANARANT: Understand win-win or lose out 9 September 2014

The “win-win” viewpoint - in which all participants are seen to benefit in one way or another - infects huge swathes of modern thinking and often crops up in debates about the garment industry. In this month’s Flanarant, Mike Flanagan proposes three principles that a win-win needs if it is to succeed.

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