Blog: Leonie BarrieGap's speed to market focus

Leonie Barrie | 22 April 2013

As turnaround efforts finally start to take hold at US specialty clothing retailer Gap Inc, the company is now focusing on leveraging its global brands to gain a larger share of the $1.4trn global apparel market.

Among the goals outlined at the company's annual investor meeting in San Francisco last week were plans to franchise Old Navy stores overseas, expand overseas - especially in China - and build a seamless omni-channel experience.

But as chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy explained, these developments are only possible through recent efforts to realign the business so that it focuses on brands instead of channels, a global assortment, and speed to market. And key to this last point is a responsive supply chain.

Bangladesh could capitalise on its low labour costs to become "the next China" if it can break through infrastructure, energy and land bottlenecks, according to a World Bank report. But it also warns of a possible backlash to recent compliance and safety issues in the ready-made garments (RMG) sector, which is suffering from a "severe image crisis".

Fire safety in the Cambodian garment and footwear industry also requires "urgent attention" according to a new report released by the International Labour Organization's Better Factories Cambodia programme. Its investigation into 'Working Conditions in Cambodia's Garment Sector' found a "worrying increase in fire safety violations".

Africa's beleaguered clothing and textile industry could take advantage of a projected downturn in exports from Chinese manufacturers - but only if a wide range of reforms are implemented locally, according to industry experts at the Source Africa trade event in Cape Town.

And the explosion in proposed trade agreements will probably stimulate major changes over the next decade in how apparel buyers organise their supply chains. But as Mike Flanagan explains, they never deliver what - or when - their lobbyists say they will.


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