Interview with Sharon Wood

Sharon Wood
Sharon Wood
Director of Europe
China Ting Group Holdings Ltd.
China Ting Group Holdings Ltd.

China's strengths are more in tandem with new developments and speed to market for higher-end pret-a-porter fashion.
Sharon Wood, Director of Europe of China Ting Group Holdings. Ltd.tells about the global status of China in the industry, as she converses with Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Manushi Gandhi. Synopsis: China Ting Group is a publicly-listed textile group, headquartered in Hong Kong with industrial facilities in China. Its vertically-integrated setup, supported by its sales offices worldwide in Europe and USA, makes it a partner of choice in apparel retailing and manufacturing, specifically in lady’s prêt-a-porter fashion. Sharon Wood joined the China Ting Group in 2002 as Director of its European network with headquarters in Paris. She is active at building strategic relationships across the globe and matching strategy to markets for results. Ms Wood holds a Master’s degree from Oxford University, UK and HEC, France, specializing in consulting and change management within a multi-cultural environment. Excerpts:

According to you, what is the most interesting part of being into apparels business?

The apparel business is synonymous with fashion and fashion is more than the clothes on a man’s back. Fashion is a symbol of culture, history, art and self-expression, an intimate part of oneself, carrying across a silent message of how one wants to be seen. It is fascinating.

China Ting Group Holdings Limited is into manufacturing as well as retailing of garments. Does this help your business anyway? Does it help to save cost when compared to manufacturing and selling to some other retailers?

China Ting’s manufacturing business took off in the early nineties and its retail venture started in 1998. Garment manufacturing is very specific in the type of products a factory is able to handle. For example, if a company specializes in ladies’ pret-a-porter, it would probably not be good at making jeans or men’s wear. So, for our export business selling to other retailers, the demand is very specific and not aligned with the needs of our own brands exploited in China. The garment business has no single formula and every aspect is very clearly distinguished by its technology, skills and processes. Furthermore, the quality standard of production in China is a lot more demanding than that of Europe or the USA. Our retail business is linked to our export manufacturing work in that we can share design and trends; however, the actual manufacturing itself is not very interesting to our retail supply chain because of limited processes as explained here above. To deal with a comprehensive line, we would have to look elsewhere for jeans, leather wear, furs, shoes, etc... which are not within our own production capabilities.

Please tell us how the apparel making industry of China has grown in last three years.

The apparel making industry in China has not grown, as such, in the past three years. On the contrary, a strong currency, rising overhead, labour shortage and energy problems have seen buyers of low-tech and labour intensive industries such as t-shirts, jeans, etc.. heading for cheaper markets in Asia, leaving China to monopolize a niche where technical expertise, a sophisticated and supple pool of labour and specific capabilities predominate in order to be better aligned in pricing. Consequently, China’s strengths are more in tandem with new developments and speed to market for higher-end pret-a-porter fashion.

Has the growth of industries in China affected the environment in anyway? What steps have been taken by the Chinese government for conservation of environment?

Pollution is the penultimate scourge of the environment resulting from the large numbers of factories that have sprung up in the country. This has contributed to a permanent overhanging smog and water largely unfit for direct human usage, not to mention increased health problems. Excessive energy consumption also has been seen as a cause of overheating of the atmosphere. ' The government has, in as much as possible, launched environmental regulations and industrial reforms to try to curb this problem. According to the World Bank, 'China is one of a few countries in the world that have been rapidly increasing their forest cover to combat air and water pollution.” China has also put into place controls and spot checks of factories to ensure that chemical wastes are properly disposed of and that appropriate water treatment facilities are in place.

The company has planned to open few new stores this year. Which countries/regions are you eying for this?

Our core retail business is the China market where, as pioneers, we launched our first international brand, Finity, in 1998. We now have a portfolio of several brands being distributed on the national network, and this will continue to be our focal point. In the near future, a couple of hundred shopping malls are expected to spring up across the country and this augurs well for the retail industry in general.
Published on: 16/09/2013

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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