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Five ways AllSaints builds agility into its operations

AllSaints chief operating officer Peter Wood kicked off today’s Drapers Operations Forum at the Bloomsbury Hotel in London by talking about how businesses can ensure their supply chains and operations are agile enough to survive today’s rapidly changing world. These are some of the steps AllSaints has taken to stay on top.

peter wood all saints five

peter wood all saints five

Work on supplier relationships

Wood warned that suppliers are not mind readers. Retailers need to sit down and talk to their suppliers to make sure they understand what the business wants to achieve and how it wants to grow. He also said that retailers need to concentrate on building strong relationship with their supply base. AllSaints has gone from having 300 suppliers to 40 – Wood argues that there is no point having hundreds of suppliers when you and your team have not got the time to spend to create meaningful relationships with them.

Put distribution centre stage

Most retailers with a US arm base their distribution centres on the east coast. AllSaints chose to open its distribution centre in Chicago – the more central location delivers cost and time benefits to its American customers.

Use international operations to hedge against currency fluctuations

Currency fluctuations following the Brexit vote have been a concern for many retailers. AllSaints tried to avoid buying currency amid fluctuations, as it can use dollars coming in from its international business to pay suppliers charging in dollars. This protects it “hugely” from fluctuations. Wood says AllSaints’ international operations have allowed it to have a good alignment of currencies coming in and out of the business.

Stores – big is not necessarily bountiful

AllSaints has found it can shrink its store sizes from around 10,000 sq ft to 3,000 sq ft. Customers can access the full collection from in-store pods, so the retailer can offer the same breadth of product and service in a much smaller space. AllSaints also tells customers about new products a few weeks before they are available to buy to help build excitement.

Don’t panic about what you can’t control

Wood told delegates that there is a lot that retailers cannot control, like Brexit. As a company, it tries not to fret and accepts that the world will change very quickly – but it does ensure its business model can be adapted equally as quickly. What AllSaints is doing now is very different to what it was doing six years ago and will be different again in six months.

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