Blog: Leonie BarrieA sourcing hub for the future?

Leonie Barrie | 7 April 2015

Africa’s potential as a primary source for the production of textiles and apparel has been a topic of discussion for several years – although turning talk into action has been slow.

But if global brands, manufacturers and mills could come together and build vertical supply chains on the continent, they would set themselves up with a sourcing hub for the future, according to speakers at the annual Prime Source Forum in Hong Kong.

They also seem confident that AGOA (the African Growth and Opportunity Act) will be fully renewed – with the end of May mooted for a possible decision.

Another impassioned presentation focused on the Global Apparel, Footwear and Textile Initiative (GAFTI), which wants the industry to agree a single set of testing and auditing procedures across product safety, social compliance and environmental sustainability.

Last week also brought good news for Marks & Spencer, which reported its first quarterly increase in clothing sales for almost four years – with a rise of 1.2%, during the fourth-quarter.

Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing says it is working to raise the bar across the apparel industry, after facing criticism earlier this year of factory conditions at two of its suppliers in China. Its latest CSR report says it has ramped up inspection efforts at its garment and textile suppliers, and set out a new initiative to spread best practices.

While fashion retailer H&M and luxury lifestyle group Kering have joined forces with start-up Worn Again to test a new chemical recycling technology that can extract polyester and cotton from old clothing and textiles so that it can be spun into new fabric.

Myanmar's textile and garment industry is set to benefit from the country's first-ever National Export Strategy - a five-year roadmap aimed at strengthening smaller companies and fuelling exports and trade diversification.

But Topshop's bid to be a global player has suffered a setback in Japan, where the retailer shuttered its five stores earlier this year. A special analysis from Euromonitor International, looks at the possible reasons why, and asks what happens next?

And our annual management briefing on apparel software trends in 2015 brings together the views of software experts on the challenges facing the global apparel supply chain in the year ahead – and the ways technology can help tackle some of the issues. We also ask where firms should be focusing their investments now if they want to remain competitive into the future.

In other news, German apparel and footwear brands are being urged to publicly disclose the factories producing their products; a union says plans by the Indonesian government to raise the minimum wage of workers just once every five years should be rejected; and production has resumed at a footwear factory in Vietnam, after workers took part in a six-day strike over new social insurance legislation.

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