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Fashion’s finest reveal their sourcing secrets (over scrambled eggs at Claridge’s)

This week, I attended a breakfast hosted by Drapers and Tradecard at Claridge’s. As I tucked into my delicious scrambled eggs, I listened to the likes of House of Fraser’s Allan Winstanley, Ted Baker’s Donald Browne, Burberry’s Lise Edwards-Warrener, amongst other insightful participants, discuss the challenges they’re facing in terms of sourcing for their different businesses.

And whilst they do, indeed, operate in different sectors of the fashion market, I was surprised by how similar their challenges and needs are.

We’re publishing the contents of this breakfast in next week’s Drapers, but I thought I’d share some key comments from the attendees to whet your appetite in time for next week…

Allan Winstanley: “Our aim is to grow our house labels because [they offer] higher margins. But we only have 60 stores so we struggle to find factories that work to lower quantities. We’ve moved about 20% of our production back to Europe – mainly Turkey – because of better lead times.”

Donald Browne: “Relationships with suppliers is the most important thing – it doesn’t matter where they are based. We’ve been working with some of our suppliers for 20 years. We’re not looking to move out of China. Sometimes we might work with a new supplier for 18 months just on sampling.”

Kurt Cavano, Tradecard’s founder: “Growth in China has slowed, but it’s still at 8% (down from 10%). We do expect wages to continue to rise. But 70% of the cost of a garment is in the material; an extra 30 cents on labour isn’t going to put off [more premium brands].”

Do you agree with their opinions? Are you facing different challenges? I’d love to hear from you.

Ana Santi, deputy editor, Drapers

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