By: Foschini Group  11-11-2011

TFG Design Centre (formerly TFG Apparel Supply Company) serves the trading divisions of the group by interfacing with local manufacturers in securing merchandise for the group, pursuing the objectives of fast fashion, own design and lean retailing that are now at the centre of the TFG strategy. The aim of TFG Design Centre is to set a dynamic path for local design and manufacturing with a group-wide vision.

TFG Design Centre applies modern design concepts combined with modern electronic design technology to boost the design content of products procured locally for the group’s stores while maintaining costs. TFG Design Centre outsources manufacturing operations to a number of local manufacturers, chiefly cut, make and trim (CMT) factories in South Africa and nearby African countries, while working with them on a highly co-ordinated basis to ensure that there is maximum efficiency and flexibility in the overall manufacturing operation.

Design teams formerly working within the Foschini and Exact! divisions were combined and integrated into TFG Design Centre on a basis which allows their experience in the trading divisions to be utilised to the full.

A unit known as the Fashion Studio focuses on trend research together with textile and graphic design. It interfaces with both the design and retail functions of the trading divisions.

Design capability and versatility have been enhanced so that the division can provide complete ranges and product development for all brands and lifestyles, including casualwear.

The teams dealing with fabric, trim and outwork have been centralised so that the division can procure materials on a more rational and comprehensive basis than in the past.

There has been significant improvement in lead times from the start of styling to delivery on most of the ranges of products produced locally, with the aim of enabling the trading divisions to increase in-season trading in all brands. This means that orders are placed only a few months before delivery, as against an entire six-month or one-year period as in the past.

These changes have improved the competitive advantage of the division and purchases from local manufacturers increased by 12% in value as compared with the previous year. Further improvements are expected in future years, along with improvements in design creativity and the uptake of modern technology.

TFG Design Centre has increased its CMT capability, versatility and quality to include new brands and lifestyles. Its cost structures have been reduced and its geographical reach now extends to all provinces in South Africa and neighbouring countries.

Sample room capacity has been raised and the introduction of night shifts will raise flexibility and productivity. There is now a steady 130-day lead time from commitment to a particular fabric to delivery of finished stock to the distribution centres.

The main focus in the next year will be to reduce lead times still further and to increase volume by 25% whilst ensuring that deliveries are made on time and in full.

Emphasis is being placed on enhancements to IT systems that are designed to integrate electronic data so that every garment manufactured is managed and monitored electronically from the moment design commences to the time of delivery to the group’s distribution network.

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