In total, the frequency of sentences related to industrial automation during 2021 in fashion company filings was 16% higher than in 2016 when GlobalData first began to track the key issues referred to in company filings.

When fashion and accessories companies publish annual and quarterly reports, ESG reports and other filings, GlobalData analyses the text and identifies individual sentences that relate to disruptive forces facing companies in the coming years. Industrial automation is one of these topics. Companies that excel and invest in these areas are thought to be better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to survive unforeseen challenges.

To assess whether industrial automation is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of fashion and accessories companies, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies that have mentioned industrial automation at least once in filings during the past twelve months, this was 87% compared to 45% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to industrial automation.

Of the ten biggest employers in the fashion industry, Yue Yuen was the company that referred to industrial automation the most during 2021. GlobalData identified ten industrial automation-related sentences in the Hong Kong-based company's filings; 0.4% of all sentences. Feng Tay mentioned industrial automation the second-most, with the issue was referred to in 0.3% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high industrial automation mentions included Christian Dior, Pou Chen, and Hermes.

Across all fashion and accessories companies, the filing published in the fourth quarter of 2021 which exhibited the greatest focus on industrial automation came from VF. Of the document's 1,075 sentences, five (0.5%) referred to industrial automation.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on industrial automation and how important the issue is considered within the fashion industry, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning industrial automation more regularly is not necessarily proof that they are utilising new techniques or prioritising the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company's ventures into industrial automation have been successes or failures.

In the last quarter, fashion and accessories companies based in Western Europe were most likely to mention industrial automation with 0.06% of sentences in company filings referring to the issue.

North America extended its dominance for industrial automation hiring among apparel industry companies in the three months ended January.