Lectra Conference Highlights Shift From Competitive to Cooperative Business Strategies

Lectra recently hosted its first apparel manufacturing seminar in Bordeaux-Cestas, France.

The two-day event brought together close to 70 participants from different brands, retailers and manufacturers with experts and thought leaders from the fashion and apparel industry. Companies from 22 countries were in attendance, including businesses operating in the luxury and made-to-measure market, as well as mass manufacturers. The goal was to explore innovative ways to add value to their offer and share winning business strategies for today's rapidly changing fashion marketplace.

"The world of business is changing quickly and nowhere is this more true than in fashion," said Daniel Harari, Lectra CEO. "Today's generation is more connected than ever, which has disrupted traditional business models and shifted the balance of power between brands, retailers and consumers. In order to remain competitive in this environment, companies have to completely rethink how they operate."

The importance of moving from competitive to cooperative business strategies was a recurring theme during the event. David Birnbaum, president of Hong Kong-based consulting firm Third Horizon, emphasized the benefits of collaborative partnerships between suppliers and their customers during his presentation on garment sourcing. "You can't compete with one another and still get ahead. Think of it as the difference between winning a race versus breaking a record. In the latter scenario, everybody wins."

This sentiment was echoed during a roundtable on the value of connecting brands, retailers and manufacturers, which featured panelists from British retail giant Marks & Spencer, Chinese made-to-measure manufacturer Red Collar and Sri Lankan exporter Omega Line. The discussion also touched on how today's empowered consumer is turning the traditional retail business model on its head. The panelists noted that instead of retailers suggesting to customers what they want, customers are now telling retailers what they want, which represents a huge shift-and a huge opportunity-in how business needs to be handled.

Representatives from El Salvador-based activewear manufacturer Textiles Opico and Sri Lankan high-end swimwear manufacturer MAS Linea Aqua spoke about the challenges and benefits they had experienced when implementing Lean across their business, advocating innovation and sustainability as keys to long-term success. "Innovation is what changes things. If you don't evolve, you will simply disappear. Technology has played a pivotal role in getting us to where we are today," said Juan Zighelboim, president of Textiles Opico. Both presenting businesses had embraced change and revisited their process to become best-in-class examples of companies using lean methodologies effectively in apparel manufacturing today.

"Our relationship with Lectra dates back 23 years. Since then, we have been able to improve productivity, save time and fabric, optimize our resources and deliver better-quality products. Other companies come to offer us their solutions, but we feel supported on a global level with Lectra; we see them as a long-term business partner," said Óscar Álvarez HernÁndez, Operations Director for Mexican high-end menswear company Industrias Haber's.
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