SUPPLY CHAIN

Netherlands-based retailer deploys TradeCard’s cloud-based global trade platform

BY Staff Writer

New York — TradeCard, a supply chain collaboration and global trade platform, announced that women’s apparel retailer MS Mode has successfully deployed TradeCard to eliminate costs and improve efficiencies in its global supply chain.

The TradeCard solution allows MS Mode to transition away from agents and handle sourcing in-house without increasing overhead.

“Connecting our trading partners on one global network with automated documents and workflows will improve communication from order through settlement,” said Linda Hoebe, CFO of MS Mode, which operates 413 stores throughout the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Spain. “TradeCard allows us to handle sourcing in-house and manage by exception, reducing costs and minimizing errors. Access and connectivity through the platform allows us to eliminate letters of credit when sourcing from Bangladesh.”

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It’s all relative on the global stage

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart president and CEO Mike Duke frequently asserts no other global retailer is better positioned than Walmart, and it is easy to see why he holds that view especially when compared with the situation at the world’s second largest retailer.

France’s Carrefour this week reported disappointing 2011 financial results and said it would curtail investment in new and existing stores while cutting its dividend in half to 0.52 Euros from 1.08 Euros. To put that decrease in perspective, recall last week that Walmart investors were underwhelmed when the company wasn’t more generous with its cash and said its 2012 annual payout would increase only 9% to $1.59.

Meanwhile, not only did Carrefour halve its dividend, investors were left staring at a string of other negative numbers as operating profit and net income also declined on sales that rose a meager 0.9% to 81.3 billion Euros. Carrefour’s biggest problem is its exposure to European markets that are slow growing even in the best of times. The company derives 72% of its sales from its home country of France and other European nation’s where 52% of its 3,582 stores are located.

Walmart may not be setting the world on fire in terms of exponential percentage increases over prior year figures, but compared to Carrefour’s woeful performance it looks mighty good.

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Institute aims to keep Walmart honest on sustainability front

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart is guilty of greenwashing to enhance it corporate reputation, and it would take the company three centuries at the current pace to reach its goal of being supplied 100% by renewable energy, according to a group critical of Walmart sustainability efforts that others have lauded.

“Walmart’s sustainability campaign has done more to improve the company’s image than to help the environment,” said Stacy Mitchell, a senior research and author of the report “Walmart’s Greenwash,” that was published this week by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR).

For starters, who even knew such a group as the Institute for Local Self-Reliance existed, let alone had been around for 38 years. Not that the organization’s obscurity diminishes its perspective or findings mind you, it’s just that Walmart has faced similar greenwashing assertions ever since its sustainability initiatives were formally announced in the fall of 2005, but more often than not environmental groups have tended to give the company credit for making progress and demonstrating a genuine commitment to integrate sustainability into business processes. However, as the ILSR report points out, since 2005 the number of Americans with an unfavorable view of the company has fallen by nearly half, from 38% to 20% and therefore the company’s efforts are dismissed as greenwashing because it contends real progress is lacking.

For example, the report contends Walmart derives only 2% of its U.S. electricity from wind and solar projects, its greenhouse gas emissions are increasing rapidly, and because it places price pressures on manufacturers they in turn provide poor quality goods that don’t last, which contributes to a sharp increase in the amount of stuff Americans buy and a doubling of the trash households generate. Walmart continues to build sprawling stores on undeveloped land near older stores it has abandoned and it has made little progress on a goal of developing a sustainability index to rate consumer products, according to the report. Lastly, the group contends Walmart’s share of the U.S. grocery market is driving increased consolidation and industrialization of the food supply, which harms the environment and small-scale agriculture.

At this point it is worth recalling that the acronym ILSR stands for Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and the group’s mission is to provide innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development. Or put another way, to hinder the growth of large corporations and retailers in particular. For example, the organization’s site provides a “Big Box Toolkit,” which is a step by step plan for countering larger retailers’ expansion efforts, and the author of the “Walmart Greenwash” report also published a book in 2007 called “The Big Box Swindle,” which asserted that mega-retailers are responsible for many of society’s most pressing problems, from the shrinking middle class to rising pollution and diminished civic engagement. Given this background it’s not surprising that Walmart’s progress and ongoing efforts in the area of sustainability would be dismissed as greenwashing.

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