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30 November, 2014

Staying ahead of fashion

If fashion is getting interesting now, the industry is going to multiply immensely in the near future. Raman Kumar, Acting MD and Finance Manager, Al Futtaim Logistics, talks about the intricacies of being a successful service provider to the fashion business
A number of countries in the Middle East, today, have earned their position as global fashion players, which makes logistics one of the key elements to ensure that clients’ needs are met with lowest lead time and optimum inventory management for the retailers

Dubai Design District is a mega project which every 3PL service provider should follow very closely. As a leading logistics provider, Al-Futtaim Logistics is ready for Expo 2020 with custom built facilities equipped with the latest technologies and extremely well trained associates

Companies have to stay ahead of the technology curve to keep up with the constantly evolving fashion industry. Modern technology methods such as real time inventory tracking merged with the forecasting of demand has helped in meeting customer requirements

Fashion logistics in the region is seeing an upsurge ever since the area became recognised as one of the industry’s emerging markets. How do you see this industry being catered to logistically today as compared to in the past?
As a result of the dramatic penetration of leading fashion brands into the Middle East over the past four years, the region has become one of the strategic global hubs for international fashion brands.

A number of countries in the Middle East, today, have earned their position as global fashion players, which makes logistics one of the key elements to ensure that clients’ needs are met with lowest lead time and optimum inventory management for the retailers.

The need for international fashion brands to launch collections around the world simultaneously, including the Middle East, has prompted companies to utilise strong supply chain solutions. Also, population diversity has created the need to manufacture a wide range of clothing lines and logistics play a key role in their delivery to markets around the world.

The evolution of logistics over the years has seen the profession grow from freight, warehousing and distribution into a more holistic discipline which stretches to deliver goods and services to the doorstep of the consumer driven by ecommerce business models.

How big is the market deemed to get in the next few years? The arrival of more names and brands will affect LSPs in what way, how are you prepared?
Dubai Design District is a mega project which every 3PL service provider should follow very closely. As a leading logistics provider, Al-Futtaim Logistics is ready for Expo 2020 with custom built facilities equipped with the latest technologies and extremely well trained associates. Our 250,000 sq metres warehouse is located within close proximity to the sea and airport. It is well equipped with material handling equipment and our strategic network partner enable us to serve our customers in over 80 countries.

What sets major logistics companies apart from the rest? How are companies creating the differentiating factor?
Al-Futtaim group has global fashion brands under its umbrella which adds to our competence as a supply chain solutions provider for fashion brands entering the region. Our retail experience spans over 30 years and we have provided logistics services to many brands with whom we grew and conducted business over a long period of time.

Major logistics firms have well-established channels and networks to provide cost effective solutions in this demanding market. Al-Futtaim Logistics is able to meet and exceed the needs of customers from the fashion industry, especially brands that would like to establish a presence in the UAE by providing them with risk free, highly competitive logistics services with economies of scale.

Fast moving trends in fashion mean increased obsolescence in the way materials are handled in the warehouse. How does technology in the warehouse keep up with the speed with which fashion and trends change in the market place?
Companies have to stay ahead of the technology curve to keep up with the pace of a constantly evolving fashion industry. Modern technology methods such as real time inventory tracking merged with the forecasting of demand for a specific product has helped in meeting customer requirements. With the latest technologies in place, retailers are able to project the exact inventory within stores and warehouses to cut on the cost by reducing lead time.

Our logistics services feature the latest technologies helping us to provide all the value added services in the warehouse i.e. labelling, kitting, barcoding, etc. With 100 per cent transparency to the customer. All those elements can be done simultaneously for multiple stores within various markets.

Without custom made systems built out of the experience in handling fashion brands an LSP will find it challenging to survive in the market.

As production times reduce delivery times become tighter. How do you deal with these timelines? Please give us real life examples. Some exclusive brands order a low number of pieces each time meaning a fast rotating stock and frequent replenishment. How do you deal with this?
Our well networked freight routes give us a leverage to negotiate better lead times and rates for frequent drops. Our custom made warehouse clubbed with latest technology allows us to turn around the lines faster through a lean and efficient process. In addition to this, our wide fleet network helps us to make deliveries throughout the day 24/7 within the region.

When one hub is used by clients for multi-country consolidation and transfer, how are things managed?
A lot of our clients follow a multi-country consolidation model with Dubai being a base for the GCC and other countries in the region. Since Al-Futtaim Logistics offers a complete range of supply chain solutions including freight, clearance, warehousing to distribution, it becomes easier for us to bring in a synchronised model with cost effectiveness and reduced lead times. In addition to this, value added services like labelling, kitting, barcoding etc., are done at a single point giving the stores a quicker response to merchandise the products immediately on receipt.

Run us through the entire process of handling a client’s fashion logistics in detail. What are typical time lines from the time of arrival of the consignment to the stock reaching the racks in store?
Every customer requirement is distinct. Timelines purely depends on the customer requirements which determine the delivery turnaround time. It all depends on the value added services that are part of the service offer.
Accordingly, the whole process right from purchase order creation to movement of the shipment, inventory management in warehouse, delivery to distribution centres or end users is customised as per the requirements of our clients.
When it comes to fashion logistics, we can go to the extent of providing anti-allergen storage solutions, to high standard of hygiene in the process of pick and pack up to the point of delivery for fashion brands.

What are current challenges for the industry? Any particular region-specific challenges?
Each region possesses its own challenges, be it regulatory or distribution constraints we did face them during the initial days of business.
Being an experienced player in the industry and having established store deliveries in many regions of the Middle East, we have come up with effective solutions to counter the challenges which this region offers by working closely with professional bodies and sustaining our relationships by contributing to policy making through professional memberships.

Source: www.globalsupplychain.me