The Challenges and Opportunities of Supply Chain Development

Supply Chain 2014-2015It’s impossible to overstate the importance of robust supply chains in retail. You might be offering a first rate shopping experience, but if your customers are let down by a frustrating delivery service or unavailable stock, they’ll swiftly take their custom to a competitor and you risk losing them for good.

As published in Retail Week & DWF Supply Chain: Trends and Innovations in Retail 2014-15 report


An adaptable, flexible and highly efficient supply chain is therefore the backbone of any successful retail brand. In fact, it’s at the very core of absolutely everything retailers do in to-day’s complex multichannel world. As a supply chain director at a leading high street retailer puts it: “Supply chains used to be about sheds. But now it is a necessary prerequisite for all sorts of other business initiatives about improving service and driving business growth. It is now absolutely integral to the business strategy.”

87% of the supply chain directors interviewed say that their company’s investment in supply chain was increasing, with only 7% respondent saying investment was down and 6% saying it was staying the same.

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Interestingly, this shows a marked change from the responses in last year’s Supply Chain – Trends and innovations in retail 2013-2014 report, produced by Retail Week in partnership with DWF, where only 55% of the directors say investment was increasing and as many as 38% say it was actually going down.

Investing to meet the multichannel challenge featured prominently as one of the areas receiving most investment, along with the need to boost capacity to meet rising demand. Indeed, the sourcing and supply chain director of a major fashion retailer sees supply chain investment today as a mix of those two concerns: “there are two types of supply chain investment,” he says, “when you are a successful growing business you need more supply chain capacity. The other investment is in supply chain capabilities to meet the customer multichannel and omnichannel requirements.”

Watch out for our next blog post which will look at the pressing priorities for supply chain teams this year.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Hilary Ross Partner & Head of Retail, Food & Hospitality sector.

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

Want to know what some of the UK’s top retailers’ supply chain and legal teams think will be key innovations and issues in 2015?

Download our 'Supply chain - trends and innovation in retail 2014-2015' report – written in partnership with leading industry publication, Retail Week.

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Hilary Ross

Executive Partner (London) - Head of Retail, Food & Hospitality

Recognised by The Lawyer as one of the UK’s Top 100 lawyers, I advise clients on compliance and challenges across the EU in relation to products, systems and safety.

Dominic Watkins

Partner - Head of Food Group

I am Head of DWF’s internationally renowned food sector group as well as being Head of Regulatory in London.

Ed Meikle

Partner - Head of Retail Group

I advise on all aspects of intellectual property law, especially advising businesses in retail, food, sport and consumer products on the development, commercialisation and protection of their brands and technology.