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The collaborative buyer and supplier relationship (BSR) applied to the product development stage in the contemporary UK fast fashion and rapid fashion market

Hodson, Julie (2019) The collaborative buyer and supplier relationship (BSR) applied to the product development stage in the contemporary UK fast fashion and rapid fashion market. Masters thesis (MA), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The UK high streets have exploded with world-class international retailers, stable high street anchors and innovative independents, but in addition, many retailers are struggling to survive in an extremely competitive environment – which has led to rapidly changing customer demands for products. Because of this, the fashion industry now has planned obsolescence and has shortened new product development cycle times while the newly developed products have to meet the growing expectations of the end customer. Tensions between retailers and suppliers may not be new, but the difficult market they both face has done nothing to help. The retailers are increasingly using time as a factor for enhancing competitiveness. Development cycles are becoming shorter, transportation and delivery more efficient and merchandising is presented floor ready. Responding to this fast-paced environment, suppliers are becoming increasingly adept at moving from the manufacture of commodity products to incorporating design and branding. Research has identified the importance of supply chain integration activities contribution to an organisation’s success. The buyer/supplier relationship needs to be ready for the customer’s wants and needs. This can be achieved by involving suppliers in the new product development stage of the fashion supply chain and forming a collaborative relationship. The supplier’s designer needs to be embedded within the organisation, synergising in a collaborative partnership. The buyer and the supplier members shape the inter-organisational exchange and thus are critical in determining its outcomes. All of which embed industry practices and enable the buyers and supplier to form partnerships to change the face of their relationship and cater for their ever-changing customer demands. The study deployed rich data sets by combining case study methods and interviews from three UK fast fashion retailers and three of their suppliers. The results determined the critical dimensions of collaboration within the BSR within contemporary fashion supply chain and a conceptual framework has been developed, which identifies the key factors, that improve and/or mitigate the impact of collaboration within the BSR.

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