Blog: Supplier pain falls under the radar

Joe Ayling | 1 July 2009

Beside part-mentions in domestic Asian newspapers, the thousands of job losses at Triumph International this week went relatively unnoticed by global media.

just-style broke the story that 3,616 jobs would be lost in the Philippines and Thailand on Monday (24 June), expecting a deluge of reports from international media and industry rags.

However, the story remains reserved to readers of just-style, together with local newspapers close to the action - like the Philippine Star.

Triumph will cease manufacturing and distribution centre operations in the Philippines and reduce manufacturing in Thailand, in a restructuring plan prompted by the downturn.

Meanwhile, unrelated to Triumph, rioting garment workers resisting pay cuts and unpaid salaries in Bangladesh have reportedly torched factories and warehouses leaving 100 injured.

The Bangladesh riots won some headlines, but Western media seems under-concerned that sloping retail demand is filtering through to Asian manufacturers on a dramatic scale. Indeed, the closure of a dozen stores or handful of shop assistants is more likely to stir the emotions of a consumer-driven West.

However, this coverage, or lack thereof, is unacceptable given the global nature of the apparel supply chain and increasing importance of 'manufacturing countries' in the design process.

The supply chain infrastructure and relationships in place today were not built overnight, and can't be jumped-started at the drop of a hat either.

It would therefore be dangerous for media outlets to underestimate the impact of overseas factory closures, especially in the apparel and footwear industry.

By Joe Ayling, news editor.


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