Research Output

Managing complexity in agile global fashion industry supply chains.

  Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine the agile supply chain management practices adopted by UK clothing retailers in order to effectively manage the supply of innovative, high-margin, high-fashion content product offerings in a complex global environment. Design/methodology/approach - A case study approach was adopted examining the whole of the global retail fashion supply chain, from typical UK-based retailers through to their main production and logistics suppliers based in two low-cost locations, China and Romania. The cases of the UK retailers were followed by a study tour of China and Romania, where ten cases of fabric and finishing manufacturers, intermediaries and logistic providers were carried out. Findings - Many aspects of accepted risk management and agile practice, such as market sensitivity, postponement activities and collaborative information-sharing partnerships were apparent in the early product definition and the later product delivery stages of the supply chain. However, the responsibility for supply, including the key aspect of managing the complex supply network, was almost exclusively left to intermediaries located in low-cost countries. These intermediaries in the main could best achieve agile supply from a significantly underutilized low-cost country supply network through a traditional adversarial price and lead time auction sourcing process. Research limitations/implications - While the cases considered reflected what seemed to be a typical and widely adopted approach to managing such a supply chain, this may not, of course, be the only approach taken by organisations in the clothing industry. Originality/value - By examining a whole supply chain associated with agile supply in an important sector, the paper identifies the relative importance of some existing practices and brings into sharper focus those most relevant to this type of supply. The paper also identifies key elements of contemporary supply chain management practice, namely the growing use of global supply for innovative products and the essential and valuable role played by intermediaries in such supply chains.

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  • Date:

    01 January 2007

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  • Library of Congress:

    HD28 Management. Industrial Management


Masson, R., Losif, L., MacKerron, G. & Fernie, J. (2007). Managing complexity in agile global fashion industry supply chains. International Journal of Logistics Management, The. 18, 238 - 254. doi:10.1108/09574090710816959. ISSN 0957-4093



Supply chain management; Fashion industry; global; agile production; United Kingdom;

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