Retail industry is a crucial sector in the United Kingdom as it makes a large economic contribution for the region. Clothing retail industry is one of the largest retail businesses that have seen a drastic growth over the years in United Kingdom due to its diversity. In spite of the observed diversity in apparel industry, there are few challenges facing the sector ranging from marketing to management issues. Burton is one of the clothing retail companies in United Kingdom and was founded in 1903 by Montague Burton. The company owns several stores, mills, and factories that deal with a wide range of clothes to serve the wide European and global market. The company has undergone growth changes over the years as demand for clothes continue to increase within and outside the United Kingdom. The company’s name was changed to Arcadia Group in 1998. The company has been a great source of employment for people in the region, which has assisted in the economic growth in the region. The huge capital generated from the company’s operations is directed to expansion activities in the entire region. The company enjoys a wide range of competitive advantages over its rival companies including a large market share and huge capital generation.
2.1 High Demand/wide market
There is a high demand for clothes within and outside the United Kingdom and this translates to a wide market for apparel products. This is being contributed by the fast growing population in the region, especially on the female gender. Demand for clothes has seen a global increase hence creating new markets for apparel products. Retail industries dealing with apparel products can therefore benefit from this opportunity for markets within and outside the United Kingdom. Globalization has also contributed to the widening of apparel markets as people can easily acquire products from other countries. Burton Company can benefit from this by opening external market outlets in countries with potential buyers for apparel products. The demand for women clothing has been increasing in the recent past and this can be used as an opportunity to increase sales by clothing retail companies in United Kingdom (Gilmore, 1994, 12-16).
2.2 Large capital
Companies that have been in operation for a long period make huge profits from their operations, which can be termed as a source of capital. Burton clothing retail company has been in operation for several decades and this have enabled the company generate huge revenues from its sales in United Kingdom. Besides the internal markets, the company makes sales in other outside countries especially in America and Asia. The outlet markets have been a huge source of revenue for the company when combined with revenues generated from its operations within the United Kingdom. This capital is of great importance to the company in carrying out both the present and future projects. The huge capital can be used for expansion activities which will be a competitive advantage for the company (Black, 2014, 46-49). This can therefore, be used as an opportunity for growth for clothing retail industries in United Kingdom. Burton clothing and Retail Company can take advantage of this opportunity to utilize its capital in making external expansions and searching for new markets. External operations in outside countries will assist the company generate more revenues hence becoming a competitive advantage for the apparel company.
2.3 A well-established brand name
Clothing retail companies that have served the European market for a long time have already established their brand name within and outside the United Kingdom. People have already developed a taste for Burton apparel products and this creates a market opportunity for the company. Clothing companies have strived to establish good relations with their customers hence creating customer consumer confidence for their products.
2.4 Human resource
Young people have engaged in fashion and cloth making learning and this creates a pool of labor for apparel industries. Institutions of higher learning in the United Kingdom are also playing a crucial part in promoting the apparel industry by offering fashion design courses to the students. This encourages learners to generate an interest in this field thereby promoting skills that can be used in apparel making. The government has also invested huge funds in institutions of training, which equips learners with apparel design, and making skills. The abilities shown by the learners can be promoted by equipping them with more skills and training hence harnessing creativity. The well-trained learners can be offered a chance in these apparel industries hence acting as a source of labor for the companies (Gardetti, 2013, 33-36). The trained people are a crucial source of labor for apparel making industries and more important to the retailers dealing with clothes and other related products. Burton clothing industry can utilize this abundant labor in expanding its operations, which will increase the output in terms of products. Human resource is a great opportunity for these retail industries since it is readily available and in abundance.
2.5 Market experience
Retail companies that have served the market for long times have adequate experience and knowledge in the market trends. Clothing industries that have been in existence for decades enjoy experience, which can be translated to expertise in market management. Apparel making is an old industry in the United Kingdom and retailers dealing with this business should use their past knowledge in dealing with the changing market trends. Apparel retailers are able to interact with their customers in a close manner and this can be used as an opportunity to create good customer relations. This will promote business public image hence capturing more markets in new areas. Knowledge in market trends helps in planning for future production activities to avoid producing goods in masses beyond the market capacity (Neil, 2004, 28-37). Apparel retail companies can therefore, utilize this opportunity in making both short term and long term decisions regarding clothing production and sales management.
In spite of the growing demand for apparel products both within and outside the United Kingdom, apparel retail businesses are still facing both internal and external challenges. These threats may either affect the internal operations of a company or reduce the market coverage hence reducing sales made by the company. Some of the threats can be controlled mainly by enhancing proper management while others require government intervention.
3.1 Competition from rival companies
Apparel production is a wide and universal industry which has been subjected to business globalization. People show different appetites for different designs even those produced in distant countries. Online shopping and shipping has made it possible for people to make apparel purchases from any corner of the globe. This has intensified competition for market for apparel products as companies strive to satisfy their customers with their apparel products. Stiff competition from rival firms has affected the progress of apparel industries in the United Kingdom thereby diminishing the available markets. There has also been an emergence of many apparel-making companies, which are also targeting the available markets thereby creating competition. Although Burton clothing company enjoys several competitive advantages over its rival companies, emergence of apparel making industries has diminished its markets by a great extent (Gardetti, 2013, 33-36). This goes a long way in affecting the sales volume of the company thereby reducing the revenues generated from the sales. Apparel producing companies compete on quality and price, which rules out upcoming industries due to their lack of experience in the sector.
3.2 Constantly changing world economic trends
Apparel retail trade is subject to both positive and negative economic changes that occur in different parts of the world. An example of such trends is recession, which affects both local and international markets of most products. Apparel products cover a wide market thereby becoming a universal commodity. A change in economic performance in certain areas reduces sales of apparel products due to market fluctuations. United Kingdom is a large exporter of apparel products mainly in African and Asian countries. African economy is yet to stabilize and different forces keep on affecting the economies of this continent. Issues like war are on the rise and this means market depolarization which diminishes the available market outlets especially for the imported goods. Africa imports apparel products in large volumes from the United Kingdom and changes in economic trends in target countries affect this apparel business (Black, 2014, 46-49). Reduced exports translate to low sales thereby reducing the capital generation by the apparel retailers in United Kingdom.
Daily activities of retailers are subject to economic and political changes that occur within a region like economic recession. Some political stands made by the governments may also hinder the progress of retail business hence influencing internal trade. Politicians may use their powers to have control over the running of retail business by passing some legislations curtail the business. Apparel retail shops should be concentrated in areas with large population like in urban centers. These areas attract large number of buyers for the products hence ensuring continuous flow of goods from the sellers to the buyers. The markets can also be extended to local areas by incorporating intermediaries in the business. Burton clothing company has utilized these opportunities hence enabling it capture a wide market in the entire region (Neil, 2004, 28-37). Besides the wide market coverage, the long period of operation has enabled the company study the apparel market trends.
Retailing business is also influenced by the changes in socio-cultural and lifestyle changes in the world. Apparel industry is very connected with the changing cultural trends in a society and apparel-making companies should be quick enough to respond to these changes. People have transformed their beliefs and attitudes and this covers a great part of their lifestyle and dressing code. Different people show varied tastes in terms of modes of dressing and these tastes keep on changing making it hard for apparel retailers to respond to all lifestyle changes. This is in order to respond adequately to these changes, a detailed market analysis should be undertaken in a market potential area.
Young people are the major cause of this effect as they keep on changing their dressing codes within short periods. In response to this, retailers dealing with apparel products should diversify their products to avoid losing their customers to their rival competitors. It also becomes a challenge to respond to needs of the varied age differences especially for young people who have little age gaps. A retailer who gives a timely response to these changing trends creates a consumer confidence thereby countering competition from rival retailers. It is a way of boosting the apparel retail business in areas with potential market outlets (Gilmore, 1994, 12-16).
Land and space is another consideration that should be made by apparel retailers especially those who wish to operate in congested areas like urban centers. Retailers consume large pieces of land as they set stores for their products. Retailers also consume a lot of energy when transporting their products to their customers in different areas. It is therefore wise for a person engaging in apparel retail trade to make preparations of the expected expenditure in terms of space and energy consumption. The costs incurred in transportation process are transferred to the consumers through higher costs of apparel products. The costs may sometimes go beyond the financial ability of the buyers thereby reducing sales volume. This can be avoided by establishing operational sites within areas with potential buyers as this reduces transportation costs. It is also vital in establishing close customer relations, which is vital for growth of apparel retail business (Otieno, 2007, 23-29).
The United Kingdom market is continually becoming polarized due to entry of many retailers especially in urban centers. It is becoming hard to predict future market trends especially for small-scale retailers who rely of this crucial information in making of decisions. Dominant retailers have taken a large portion of the market share leaving little for beginners and this discourages people to engage in retail trade in the region. Retail business also requires huge capital back up due to its initial costly operations. People are therefore pushed away from this business venture especially for apparel retailers. Dominant retailers in the apparel sector also influence market changes by use of their large capital. They constantly induce changes in the apparel retail markets as a way of fighting competition from upcoming small-scale retailers. Dominant retailers in the apparel sector enjoy several competitive advantages over their small-scale retailers like huge capital back up (Black, 2014, 46-49). They make use of this capital to make intentional market changes with the aim of discouraging willing retail investors. This has made the apparel; retail market very polarized in the United Kingdom and areas served by the region with apparel products.
Organizational structure has also been an upcoming trend in the apparel retail business and retailers are merging into groups in order to have a stronger control of a wide market. Apparel retailers are spreading their coverage to new domains especially in areas that show potential market outlets. In this regard, United Kingdom apparel retailers are diverting their attention to African nations as they offer reliable market sources for their products. The retailers are also studying the consumer patterns in these regions so as to plan for supplies (Tarnanidis, 2011, 26-35).
Different regions show varied market behaviors depending on the financial abilities of the people and the available market size. Retailers are merging into groups in order to have a strong influence in countering competition and maintaining dominance of the established market shares. This also enables the retailers to cover large areas of markets share through cost-shared market study operations.
4.0 Services marketing strategy commonalities and differences among major players
Several apparel retailers in the United Kingdom focus on internal and external apparel supply within and outside the region. There are some evident similarities and differences among major players in this retail sector in the United Kingdom. Most of the similarities are observed in the marketing strategies adopted by the apparel retailers in making their sales. In spite of the few differences among the major players in this sector, each player aims at maximizing profits by using spending little on operational costs (Neil, 2004, 28-31).
One of the similarities observed among the major players in terms of marketing is diversification of their apparel products. In this case, different apparel retailers make a study of the target population and come up with different apparel designs that suit every group of population. This entails satisfying the different demands in the widespread demographic society in terms of age and cultural differences (Black, 2014, 46-49). Burton clothing retail company is one of the companies that observe diversification and this strategy has been copied by emerging apparel retailers in the United Kingdom.
Major market players in this apparel retail industry are also engaging in exploring external markets outside the United Kingdom. This is because the market opportunities in the United Kingdom are almost being exhausted. There are more retailers than manufacturers in the United Kingdom thereby creating competition for the limited market opportunities (Gilmore, 1994, 12-16). In response to this competition, retailers are looking for external markets especially in African and Asian countries. These areas offer a reliable source of apparel consumers hence a target for apparel retailers in the United Kingdom.
The market operators also show similarities in their target populations in terms of age and gender. Most of the retailers deal with the selling of female apparels as they capture wider markets when compared to male clothes. Manufacturers also find it simple to make women apparels since they are less complex when compared to men clothes. In terms of age, most retailers prefer selling children clothes and those of the middle aged people. These apparels fetch better prices together with the wide market share for the apparels (Neil, 2004, 28-31).
The major difference among major players in the apparel retail business in United Kingdom is in the different lengths of supply chains adopted by each retailer. Some exporters prefer using long supply chains with few intermediaries as a way of minimizing costs. On the other hand, some apparel retailers prefer using short supply chains so as to cater for local markets (Honeyman, 2007, 56). These short supply chains serve the available apparel markets in the United Kingdom.
Another difference is the magnitude of business handle by each market player and in this case, most retailers prefer operating under large-scale terms. This enables them to cover wide markets within and outside the United Kingdom. Other apparel retailers operate in small-scale motives and this only enables them to cover small portion of the market. Most of the small scales retailers are have capital limitations, which inhibit expansion of their businesses (Taplin, 2011, 52-59).
5.0 Key strategic service marketing issues for apparel retailers
In order to counter the rising competition in the apparel industry, Burton clothing and retail industry should engage in setting firm strategies for future operations. The action plans should be aimed at looking for ways of expanding the markets for the apparel products from the company. The strategies should also be aimed at minimizing operational costs to maximize profits.
One of the future strategies that can be applied in Burton clothing and retailing industry is diversification of apparel products. This mainly applies in demographic sector, which entails age and gender differences. In order to succeed in product diversification, the management team in Burton clothing company should engage in critical market study within and outside United Kingdom. This includes analysis of different age groups, gender representation, and cultural differences within a region. In order to capture a wide market, the company should engage in producing apparel products that meet the needs of every age group in the target region. The production of apparel products should also reflect the gender representation in the target region so as to carter for the consumers irrespective of their gender. This will assist in widening the market since the company will be able to meet the clothing needs of every consumer (Black, 2014, 46-49).
In order to counter the growing global competition for the limited markets, the company should engage in market expansion in areas with potential buyers. This can be achieved by carrying out a market analysis and planning to meet the varied needs from the consumers. The company should focus on establishing markets outside the United Kingdom in order to maximize sales. This can be accompanied by establishing external operational sites in other countries to get close to potential consumers. Cultural differences between people should be observed when expanding to other countries especially in developing nations. Expansion of markets will increase sales and this will translate to more revenues for the company (Neil, 2004, 28-31).
Burton clothing retail company should also focus on maintaining the already established markets by observing good customer relations. Apparel retailers should maintain close and friendly relations with their customers and this will improve customer loyalty. Efforts should be exerted to ensure that the buyers recognize the company’s brand name and this will reduce competition from rival apparel retailers. This can either be achieved by maintaining close interaction with willing buyers or through advertisement. In order to make the process more effective, different forms of advertisement should be used for different age groups (Gilmore, 1994, 12-16). The management team should also listen and respond to the comments given by the customers and this will help in improving the quality of apparel products being sold in the market.
Retail business is a vital sector of the economy and the government needs to give it equal attention just like other sectors of the economy. The sector should be given adequate attention and funding to promote emerging businesses as well as renovating the existing ones. Apparel companies should be given enough funding by the government so as to ensure proper management which will lead to good performance. The government should also regulate the apparel sector to ensure healthy competition in the field. In this regards, the emerging apparel businesses will be encouraged to stay in the competition thereby promoting diversification in production of apparel goods (Otieno, 2007, 23-29).
Local authorities should collaborate with support agencies in assisting small apparel retailers in United Kingdom to promote this vats industry. Emergence of more apparel retailers will lead to job creation in the region hence a notable economic progress. The government should for example assist apparel retailers in searching for external markets in other countries and this will promote sales increase. Support agencies should do a detailed market study and advice the apparel retailers accordingly concerning the expected market behaviors (Honeyman, 2007, 56). In return, the government will benefit from revenues collected from these exports hence a large economic boost. Apparel retailers should also be encouraged to form partnerships for better performance in the global markets. Collaboration increases chances of survival in the competitive global market especially in markets dealing with apparel products. Proper planning will ensure that operational costs are minimized hence increasing profits. The profits generated can be used for expansion activities, which will help in countering the stiff competition from rival firms.
Apparel making has become a universal business, which offers employment to millions of people globally. Retailers in this industry are trying to diversify their products to meet the growing global demand as well as generate income from these activities. This sector is being faced by several challenges mainly due to emergence of many apparel retailers all over the world. The markets are diminishing thereby causing unhealthy competition for the available small markets. In order to secure this crucial industry, the governments are doing their best in promoting both the production and selling of apparel products for their retailers. The constantly changing world economic trends have affected the apparel industry and specifically the retailers in this sector. Apparel retailers should aim at minimizing operational costs and this will assist maximize profits, which can be used in expansion of operations in the business.
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