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Logistics: Japanese Buyers

As an emerging fashion designer I hope to take orders whilst meeting with key Japanese buyers later this years. I wonder if you are able to advise me of when Japanese buyers will expect delivery of Spring/Summer 2009 collections?

Philip Bracken, Director, Professional Services ofTNT Fashion Group:

The best advice is to avoid over-committing yourself to your Japanese Buyers. If you let them down you may do irreparable harm to your brand - far better to exceed their expectations.

You need to understand the lead-times for the component parts of your range supply-cycle:

- Design (presumably this is in your own hands)
- Material purchasing (will you supply materials or expect production house to supply? Allow time for sourcing)
- Production planning (don’t underestimate the work content and/or lead-time here - gain supplier commitment)
- Actual production runs (gain clear commitment from supplier; try to include late-delivery penalties)
- Shipment from production house to your customer

You may wish to ascertain lead times for the above items for replenishment orders (as opposed to initial orders).

If you have no idea about any of these variables yet, then it will be safer to ask for their requirements and then offer to confirm whether you can meet these or not. Then, based on potential order volumes etc. you can gain commitment from the various parties as to whether you will be able to match demand. Leave yourself a some contingency, otherwise you may find that a small delay in fulfilling the orders to schedule will result in either a complete cancellation or a heavy markdown from originally agreed prices.

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