Blog: Leonie BarrieUnrest weighs on sourcing decisions

Leonie Barrie | 9 June 2014

As US retailers stocked up in April in anticipation of a busy spring and summer, their preferred supplier choices continued to be led by China and Vietnam. But the decline in shipments from Bangladesh appears to be accelerating.

Indeed, US apparel imports from Bangladesh have now stumbled for four months in a row following last year's factory safety issues and subsequent strikes over pay. And a closer look at the figures shows that while the country is holding up in basic men's wear, women's wear fashion is on a downward trajectory.

It would also appear that unrest and the potential for supply-chain disruption are weighing on the sourcing decisions of US buyers when it comes to Cambodia and Indonesia too - with both seeing a drop in imports into the US during April. 

The importance of assessing the risks when it comes to sourcing apparel across ever-more complex supply chains is one of the issues addressed in this month's management briefing on just-style. Our report also looks at changes in China and other supplier countries, and technology to help track and oversee sourcing shifts.

Efforts to improve transparency have also led to Woolworths Ltd, Australia's largest supermarket retailer, disclosing the names of all the Bangladeshi garment factories it sources from. And apparel giant VF Corp is preparing to do the same in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Turkey is targeting strong growth in exports of textiles and clothing to the UK and other parts of Europe to capitalise on a growing number of brands and retailers seeking to diversify their supply chains away from Asia.

The group working towards the zero discharge of hazardous chemicals in the apparel and footwear supply chain has reached a significant milestone by releasing its long-awaited Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL). The list sets concentration limits for substances used in chemical formulations during the production of textile materials and trims.

And improved weather coupled with a slew of promotions helped to drive traffic and sales gains for US apparel retailers in May - with analysts expecting the upward trend to continue into June.

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