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Mosaic Fashions on the retail supply chain

Mosaic Fashions has a stable of high street brands (Oasis, Karen Millen, Whistles, Warehouse, Coast, Shoe Studio, Principles and Odille) which together represent 3.7% of all Womenswear sold in the UK. Here are some highlights of the presentation (PDF-version download here) by John Bovill, Mosaic Fashions Group IT Director, from the recent Retail Week Supply Chain Conference.

The Challenges of Fast Fashion

John Bovill is passionate about retail with a career spanning many roles. Starting with the five years he spent selling clothes on a market stall to management training at Harrods, and now to his current position as group IT Director of the fifth largest Womenswear retailer in the UK.

On Wednesday September 19th, John talked about his logistics and supply chain experience at Mosaic Fashions. John believes that the British (and worldwide) obsession with celebrity fuels a consumer focus on the latest must-have garments worn by stars, models, musicians and other famous faces boosted by the media. This, in turn, has uprooted the old sleepy seasonality of fashion and replaced it with a fast continuous process of renewal; dictating very short life-cycle garments that can be taken from design, to manufacture, to distribution and into the stores in just six weeks.

The pressure for new merchandise drives fast-fashion retailers to be ever more nimble in provisioning their stores with a constant flow of celebrity-influenced styles and looks in just the right quantities – balancing optimal product availability in store against the dangers of overstocking and obsolescence. Stock cover, how long a particular range stays in the stores, is six to eight weeks. Nothing sells slower than yesterday’s fashion story, at least until it’s marked down.

Staying on top of complex supply chains

Mosaic provides shared services to its raft of brands, taking away the logistic, IT and HR administration to free-up the brand owners allowing them to focus on the creative and design areas of the business. Mosaic also sources, manufactures and even wholesales its garments. This latest departure into wholesaling is currently only represented by the Odille range of women’s lingerie which will be sold into department stores, but there are plans to expand into high-end women’s clothing range in 2008.

Mosaic is able to respond quickly to market trends, because it sources and manufactures its own garments, and also because it owns the cloth. As John explains, “Until you cut your cloth you have flexibility. So, if a body shape is not working you can stop production and move it to another shape, or even take the cloth to another factory to meet demand for a winning line.”

John described how the BT Expedite Sourcing Solution has helped to manage production and stay on top of the various stages involved in long supply chains. It gives Mosaic Fashions the all-important visibility into its supply chain by delivering interaction with suppliers via Web portals. Mosaic manufactures in Eastern Europe and the Far East; and with 20% of business falling outside of the UK, it has extended its supply chain for finished garments to include a growing network of stores and franchises around the world.

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