Blog: Leonie BarrieM&S turnaround to take even more time

Leonie Barrie | 31 May 2016

The new boss at British high street giant Marks & Spencer last week set out his plans to turn around the retailer's key clothing division by lowering prices and improving style, fit and quality – after the troubled unit saw like-for-like sales slump 2.9% over the past year.

Steve Rowe, who took over the reins as chief executive last month, also warned that efforts to improve the clothing ranges will "take time" and will weigh on profits in the short term.

For fashion retailer H&M, however, the dichotomy between compliance and worker safety came to the fore in two separate stories on just-style.

On the one hand the retailer has been ranked one of the world's supply chain leaders, with a nine out of ten rating for corporate social responsibility (CSR). On the other, though, it has been criticised for failing to live up to its commitments to protect workers in its supply chain.

US specialty fashion giant Gap Inc has also been accused of a significant divide between its pledges and actions on factory monitoring and increased regulations to stem abuses across its supply chain. But the retailer says it is working to improve conditions in the factories that make its clothes after a study found violations at suppliers in India, Indonesia and Cambodia.

German sportswear giant Adidas, meanwhile, is gearing up to begin large-scale footwear production next year at its "industry-changing" Speedfactory facility in Germany – and plans to extend the concept to the US.

The company envisages a global network of Speedfactory modules in key consumer markets around the world, enabling it to combine "the fastest reaction to consumer needs" with the flexibility to offer products that are uniquely customised for individual consumers.

But the fall-out from the demise of UK apparel and homewares retailer BHS is starting to be felt as two of its suppliers have gone into administration. CUK Clothing Limited and Courtaulds Brands Limited supply branded and private label hosiery, socks, bras, underwear to retailers in the UK and internationally, and own the Pretty Polly, Gossard and Aristoc labels.

For Central America, the challenge is how to make better use of the flexibilities of the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) with the US, and leverage the so-called staging categories of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to boost its competitiveness, according to experts.

Sporting goods giant Nike has announced a number of general management promotions aimed at driving continued innovation across its global markets.

New research notes that millennial consumers want more than just good products: they want brands that make a positive difference.

And a year-long partnership between Levi Strauss and Google has led to the launch of what the companies claim is the world's first garment to feature Project Jacquard smart technology.

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