HanesBrands is deploying a standardised IT system by FuturMaster to help with supply and demand forecasting in more than twenty-five countries. HanesBrand is a $6.5 billion global apparel company, which employs 68,000 people and manufactures and sells a number of leading underwear and activewear brands which include Wonderbra, DKNY, Playtex, and Champion.
Hanes stocks a wide range of men’s, women’s and children’s underwear, casualwear and activewear – including t-shirts, bras, socks, and hosiery in various colours, style, and size combinations. Around 200 million units are sold in Europe, with France alone managing over twenty thousand stock keeping units (SKU’s), of which roughly a third change every six months. Regional differences abound. For instance, French customers are mainly mass market players with high promotional activities, while sales in Spain and the UK are mostly through retailers. Local consumer trends can also be very different from one country to the other, with varied colour expectations.
Being able to analyse millions of production, distribution, sales and inventory data points in real time is something that a dedicated team of about two dozen analysts do to ensure that the right styles, colours and sizes of apparel are on store shelves at the right time for consumers.
Previously, the European business was forecasted separately by each country, but the Western-European management decided it needed the same process everywhere to maximise benefits from the global Hanes supply chain. It also wanted better reporting structures in place and software to measure performance (KPI’s). Hanes opted to rollout FuturMaster’s demand forecasting software in Western Europe for driving sales and projections.
Nonetheless, the new technology would allow each country a degree of flexibility and the ability to come up with fine-tuned, localised ranges wherever deemed more profitable. This would mean that regular, top-up purchases like men’s briefs or t-shirts would be fed primarily through its global reserve stock using centralised planners, while local planners would work on the development of more seasonal or promotionally-led products specific to Europe, the company said in a press release.
Hanes has seen an increase in forecast accuracy of up to ten per cent, depending on the category of products and learning curves, country by country. Fewer people are having to grapple with using a variety of different systems across the globe and no longer wasting so much time on forecasting. Manual data errors and out-of-stocks have also been reduced. Hanes has adopted FuturMaster’s software in its major European markets and next plans to implement the technology in a few more remaining countries. (GK)