Chinese sports brand 361° has invested in a new product lifecycle management (PLM) solution to streamline design, production and retail as it expands internationally and moves from wholesaler to retailer.

The 361 Degrees Group integrates branding, R&D, design, production, and distribution of products including sports shoes and apparel, related accessories, childrenswear, and high-end outdoor products.

The company began its international expansion in 2013 and is now present in the US, Europe, and South America, as well as being an official supplier of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

As well as international expansion, 361° is transforming from a wholesale to a retail business model.

"The company is developing very fast and as we move from wholesaler to retailer, research and development is becoming more complex to manage," explains Chen Jianci, VP of IT and supply chain at 361°.

"We have a lot of suppliers and are changing from traditional supply chain methods to a model that will allow us to move more quickly. For example, if we get all our suppliers to use a common platform, we can get real time quotes, availability and so forth.

"Knowledge management is also an area of focus – we need to make sure that old designs are retained so that they can be re-used and not lost."

The company has selected the Centric 8 PLM system from Centric Software, noting that the vendor "really understands what a sportswear company needs, which is very important to us," says Chen.

"Our business is developing quickly, so we need software that is flexible and fully extensible. Co-operation between Centric and 361° is highly strategic and the best practices shared from Centric are crucial for us."