While international expansion is a key strategy for growth for many UK fashion retailers, it brings a whole series of new operational challenges – not least around planning and managing the product.
Kurt Salmon recently ran a round table with leading high street fashion retailers to debate the issues facing buyers and merchandisers as they operate in more countries.
One of the first challenges discussed was around structure. There will come a tipping point when retailers will have to move from running separate international and domestic buying and merchandising teams with different tools to a centralised format. This will still require an effective communication process so that timely and accurate “local” information can be received and the right decisions made.
Also high on the list of challenges was product allocation: the wider the store base and the more disparate the stores, the greater the risk of stock ending up in the wrong place. Better use of demand forecasting systems and closer involvement of suppliers to share the burden of replenishment will reduce the risk of redistributing stock and carrying that additional cost. In addition, understanding the relationship with overseas partners for prioritisation of stock is critical.
- Lynn Evison, Partner at retail consultancy Kurt Salmon