French high-end women's lingerie and ready-to-wear brand Aubade has invested in product lifecycle management (PLM) software to accelerate product development as it expands into the retail sector.

The company will implement the Calendar Management, Cost Scenario, Materials Management, Product Specification and Product Sourcing modules of the Centric 8 PLM tool.

Users will include product managers, designers, and members of product development, industrialisation, quality control, research and development, and technical development staff around the world.

Until recently, Aubade handled all product design, development and manufacturing, while selling only through channels. To date, Aubade has relied on spreadsheets to manage product development.

Now, the business is expanding rapidly into the retail sector, according to Annie Bureau, Aubade's operations director, and already operates more than 55 stores.

 "As Aubade continues to open new retail outlets and increase the number of collections each year, it is more important than ever to implement a system to help assure reliability and accuracy," says Bureau.

Aubade will use the Centric PLM suite to accommodate two separate operational models. For its lingerie products, Aubade directly handles product design, development and manufacturing. For day and night ready-to-wear apparel lines, Aubade outsources the manufacturing.

By working with "one version of the truth" about each product, Bureau explains, staff can better track development progress, improve data reliability and increase productivity across all product lines, all departments and all locations.

Aubade works with up to 6,000 SKUs at a time, each requiring very specific sizing measurements. Because the lingerie segment of the apparel industry is extremely technical, some items, says Bureau, can have up to 21 size/cup combinations.

A key differentiator of the industry, she explains, is that bras are created in three - not two - dimensions because of the cup. "The measurements, and communications about those measurements, need to be very accurate to match sizes perfectly," says Bureau.

Aubade also will use the PLM software to improve collaboration with remote suppliers through better progress monitoring and visibility into the product development process that takes place at different sites.

"By clearly defining and tracking all product development actions, Aubade will be able to more precisely calculate lead times and costs, and control margins throughout the process," says Bureau.