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Different industries are making progress on supply chain excellence at different rates. In the writing of the Supply Chain Metrics That Matter series of reports, we see that the consumer electronics industry is one of the only sectors making consistent and sustainable progress in balancing growth, profitability, cycles and complexity. We also see that many other industries—chemical, consumer products, pharmaceutical and medical device—are stuck on a horizontal plateau. They are treading water with no company able to move forward. In contrast, we see that the apparel industry is trending backwards.
When we analyze progress in the apparel industry over the last decade, we see a degradation of results on the Supply Chain Effective Frontier: days of inventory are flat or increasing and three of the six companies show flat or decreasing performance on operating margin. This is the sharpest reversal in progress on supply chain excellence that we have seen in the Supply Chain Metrics That Matter series (for a complete series listing see the Appendix).
Figure 1 illustrates the intersection of inventory turns and revenue per employee over the preceding decade. Ideally, companies would be moving consistently from the lower left to the upper right as they increased both inventory turns and revenue per employee performance. Instead, we see inconsistency, a lack of resiliency and stagnancy across the industry.