Apparel Sourcing Intelligence - Worldwide

Brands close Indian sourcing offices

Some pessimism emerged about India’s future as a sourcing location as Li and Fung’s acquisition of Timberland’s sourcing operation led to the closure of Timberland’s separate Indian sourcing office. This decision – which has nothing to do with India as a place to buy clothes from – coincided with rumours in India that Liz Claiborne was reviewing the future of its Indian sourcing office, and came shortly after the decision of UK retailer Next to close its Bangalore office – while keeping its Delhi one.

The reality seems a lot more pedestrian than any vote of no confidence in India. Local specialists like Triburg and Fifth Avenue can offer better service, cheaper, to many Western brands and retailers than a directly-operated outpost of a European or American company. Li & Fung seems determined to buy up every sourcing operation it can lay its hands on. And, with retail sales slowing, sourcing is subject to stringent cost review like any other business operation.

Not all businesses are cutting back, however. Marks and Spencer announced the expansion of its Bangalore office to source apparel for its Indian chain. Announcing the decision, Mark Ashman, Chief Executive Officer, Marks & Spencer Reliance India said, “70% of the volumes of what we sell at our [Indian] stores will be made in India.”