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Most important difference between survivors & losers…- CEO, Clothesource
25
Nov '08
Mr Mike Flanagan, CEO, Clothsource
Mr Mike Flanagan, CEO, Clothsource
Clothesource was set up in 1992 with the specific purpose of finding Eastern European garment factories for western customers. Today, 16 years later it provides information on sourcing decisions on a global scale to its clients.

Founded by Liz Leffman, she worked as Marketing and Business Development Director for Courtaulds Textiles in Poland, helping Polish garment manufacturers find customers in Western Europe. Following that she set up Clothesource, working for UK clients in Romania, Poland, Belarus and Bulgaria, and setting up a team of quality control and factory management specialists in Romania.

Mike Flanagan, Chief Executive of the company started his career as a school boy in a Liverpool record store in the Beatle era, where he first learned the importance of tight supply-chain management in a fashion-oriented business. After an early career at the Leo Burnett and J Walter Thompson advertising agencies in the UK and Italy, he returned to retailing, with senior international buying, marketing and operations posts in the retail divisions of groups such as Associated British Foods, British Petroleum and US Shoe.

At Clothesource, he has developed the hard data buyers need to make good sourcing decisions and vendors need to understand their competitiveness. Clothesource now holds the world's largest collection of intelligence on price comparisons, supplier capabilities and national resources for nearly 100,000 factories in over 100 countries. A frequently-quoted industry commentator, Mike has lectured on the industry around the world.

In an exclusive interview Fibre2fashion spoke to Mr Mike Flanagan to understand more about the company he heads as well as about the current and future of the apparel industry in the current economic crisis affecting the global industry.

To a question to inform our readers about his company, he said, “Clothesource provides the world apparel trading community with hard data and informed advice about garment trading. We offer a number of publications which can help both buyers and sellers manage better and we provide training courses and consultancy for many of the UK's best known garment retailers. We also operate a quality control and project management business for Western buyers in Eastern Europe.”

To a question regarding benefits that may accrue to the apparel industry from the reports he said, “For buyers, our tools and advice benchmark buyers measures performance against their competitors, and let them quantify precisely the cost of every element of their sourcing strategy. For sellers, our tools and advice benchmark measures pricing and target audiences against all the world's other makers of similar clothing.”

To draw from his vast experience on the apparel industry we asked him for his opinion on the current crisis affecting the apparel industry to which he said, “However awful it feels for many businesses, more people around the world will buy more clothes this yearthan last. Probably, more clothes will be bought next year than this. The real crisis isn't that sales are falling: apparel retail sales declines are mild compared to most other retail businesses (try being in the car or travel industry). The real crisis lies in the huge proportion of manufacturers, brands and retailers that are financially vulnerable even in the best of times.


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