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What’s Up with Li & Fung?

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Just over three years ago, Supply Chain Matters declared outsourcing services provider Li & Fung Ltd. a supply chain competency success story. This company was on a roll exercising a successful supply chain outsourcing strategy for firms in need of supplier sourcing of apparel and toys. Its customer base included many well-known retailer labels with customer value built on providing clients a one-stop presence for supplier sourcing and moving finished goods to retailers. Their detailed knowledge of the particular supply segment, coupled with amassing economies of scale in production and distribution needs, all integrated into a holistic fulfillment model, set this firm apart. During the major 2008-2009 economic crisis, when global economies started to tank, it was the apparel and toys segment in China and other regions that experienced the most severe blows in terms of supplier bankruptcies. Li & Fung managed to sustain earnings growth during this difficult period […]


Artic Sea Ice Melting at Extraordinary Rate- Concern vs. Opportunity

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On the eve of Hurricane Isaac’s predicted strike on the shores of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans, along with numerous typhoons that have also struck parts of China, japan, Korea , the Philippines and other Asian countries during these past two months, comes the disturbing news that Artic sea ice has reached record lows.  The year 2012 is certainly turning out to be one of extraordinary climatic news, and now comes another disturbing item. According to published reports, scientists at the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA report that as of this past Sunday, the Artic sea ice cover had been reduced by a whopping 1.58 million square miles, the lowest value in 22 years. Scientists attribute this huge melting to long-term warming trends and unusual weather conditions. According to a Washington Post article (paid subscription or free metered view), the Artic summer […]


Will Apple and Samsung Enter a New Phase of Relationship?

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In the wake of Apple’s highly publicized $1 billion plus victory over Samsung in their recent patent infringement lawsuit encounter, the open question for supply chain management communities is how, if at all, the aftermath of this lawsuit will impact the ongoing relationship of Samsung in being a major strategic component supplier for Apple. Supply Chain Matters is of the viewpoint that the impact will not be immediate, but will change to some degree over time. The best traditional business media reporting we have run across that reflects on the supply chain implications of the recent verdict comes from a syndicated published report by Reuters which clearly opines that Samsung and Apple will not damage their long-term component supplier agreements. Correctly noted is that the current agreements are too valuable and too important for either company to place at-risk.  The article quotes a Samsung executive who took part in a […]


Home Improvement Retailer Wars- August 2012 Update

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As a highlight of our continued deeper focus on specific industry supply chain challenges and learning, Supply Chain Matters has featured an ongoing series of specific commentaries titled the home improvement retailer wars.  Our stream of commentary began in early 2010 with Home Depot and its efforts to overcome recognized supply chain fulfillment capabilities gaps with its prime rival, Lowe’s. Our initial commentary, Can Home Depot Close Its Supply Chain Gap?, was followed by a subsequent commentary in September 2010, Home Depot Making Progress in Closing the Supply Chain Gap. During the bulk of 2010, the Depot embarked on a $250 million investment in improved supply chain capabilities on both supply chain operations and planning. There was a rather large effort to shift inventory replenishment strategies toward more centralized planning, which included the majority of inbound inventory activity moving through 19 regionalized flow-through deployment centers. Additional investments were made in […]


The Implications of a Building Inventory Glut Across China

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The following is this author’s weekly guest commentary appearing on the Supply Chain Expert Community web site. Last week, a Twitter alert from Steve Keifer, Vice President of Global Marketing at GXS made reference to a New York Times published article, China Confronts Mounting Piles of Unsold Goods. (paid online subscription or free metered view).  Supply Chain Matters also alerts Community members to this article because of the important implications to global supply chain sales and operations planning (S&OP) strategies in the coming months. The Times article reports that a potentially severe inventory overhang is occurring across many of China’s manufacturing industries. According to the Times, the severity of this inventory problem has been apparently masked by the previous government reported data in order to prop up confidence in China’s economy. It cites situations where Chinese suppliers and end-item manufacturers have refused to cut back production while demand for goods […]


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