The role of international hubs in a fashion retailer's sourcing strategy

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The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the role of international hubs in a fashion retailer's sourcing strategy. In order to compete more effectively in a dynamic fashion market, retailers have adopted a low cost, offshore sourcing model to supplying their domestic market. There are three approaches which have been used to implement an offshore sourcing strategy; direct sourcing from the HQ, the use of intermediaries and international hubs. The aims of the research were to understand the motives behind the development of international hubs, identify their stages of development and determine both their strategic and operational role within fashion companies' global strategies. Research was carried out through semi-structured interviews with the heads of 3 international hubs, one buying office and the head of merchandising at the HQ in the UK of a subsidiary of a major UK fashion chain. Results show that hubs evolve from buying offices to multifunctional units, specialising in supplying particular products to the market. Although hubs perform important operational functions, there was little intra hub coordination and the headquarters exerted considerable control over their hubs with regard to overall sourcing strategies.

Keywords: UK; fashion; international hubs; sourcing

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Management and Languages, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, UK 2: School of Fashion, Marketing and Retailing, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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