Future scenarios in UK apparel supply chains: a disaggregative Delphi study

Oxborrow, L., 2015. Future scenarios in UK apparel supply chains: a disaggregative Delphi study. DBA, Nottingham Trent University.

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The purpose of the paper is to explore the issues of strategic and supply chain alignment in the apparel supply chain now, and to establish future scenarios for the development of the apparel supply chain in the context of emerging retail strategy and a changing trading environment.

The approach adopted is a Disaggregative Delphi study based on interviews with experts from across the UK apparel supply chain, a survey ranking variables as important now and in 5 years’ time and development of three future scenarios from which emerging supply chain configurations are presented.
The findings reveal a gap between retail strategy and supply chain practice, with cost and design integrity dominating supply chain decisions. Three future supply chain configurations are developed that illustrate varying tendencies towards enhanced standardisation and cost efficiency; proximity supported flexibility; and responsiveness to niche market demands, respectively.

Research implications and limitations:
There is a lingering gap between theory and practice in the apparel supply chain, with a persistent focus on cost, limited adoption of fast fashion and an emerging emphasis on standardisation downstream. The supply chain configurations revealed reflect the difference between upstream and downstream practices which impacts on theory, as most extant research is retail centric. The research is limited to the apparel industry, but there is opportunity to generalise to other low-cost, fast moving consumer sectors.

Practical implications:
The findings illustrate the opportunity for innovation in the apparel supply chain in response to growing multi-channel distribution and delays in product development, to align the supply chain with retail strategy. The lingering focus on cost, slow uptake of new technologies and deterioration in relationships is challenged.
Originality and value:
Empirical evidence in the apparel supply chain is dominated by single case approaches and the retail perspective. This paper is unique in that it explores the whole apparel supply chain from multiple expert perspectives, while also developing scenarios to inform future research and practice. It introduces the concept of the Dissaggregative Delphi to supply chain ‘futures’ studies, reflecting the lack of a one-size-fits-all solution. The research explores the supply chain response to shifting retail strategy and reveals the emerging importance of downstream standardisation in future supply chain configurations – at the expense of responsiveness elsewhere in the supply chain.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Oxborrow, L.
Date: 2015
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Jill Tomkinson
Date Added: 04 May 2016 08:45
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2016 15:03
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/27728

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