Roulston Retail Partner Gary White on the Shrinking World of Sourcing

June 26, 2013

Sourcing has become an increasingly important issue for retailers due to a tightening of geographic choices. This is causing worldwide cost increases since choices are decreasing while costs are rising due to less options. The recent developments in Bangledesh where there are major safety concerns that are causing retailers to consider dropping sourcing from the country for fear of legal issues after the April collapse of the Rana Plaza complex factory in Dhaka which killed 1,129 people. China will always have supply but quota and tariffs become a larger issue. Retailers like Gap, Target, and Wal-Mart source in emerging markets like Pakistan, Vietnam, and Cambodia but these countries have limitations continuing to make sourcing more challenging. Quality can’t be found everywhere as only certain products can come from certain locations and fabrics can be costly to stage adding to costs. This makes sourcing opportunities challenging. If price isn’t an issue quality and capability can become the issue. Not all countries can make all products at the same cost or same quality required to make the product sellable or the margin level acceptable. Stay tuned there is more to come.

Gary was the CEO of United Retail Group from 2008 to 2010, a 500 mall and strip-center based chain of specialty stores.  He successfully executed a special turnaround, helping move a recently acquired company from public to private, reduce its losses and grow the business. Prior to United Retail Group, Mr. White was the COO and Executive VP at The Wet Seal, where he returned the company to profitability from large losses.  He was the CEO of Savers, Inc for 3 years prior to Wet Seal and the CEO of Gymboree for 4 years.  He spent 16 years at Target in the beginning of his career, moving from a store manager to Vice President Regional Manager – West. If you would like to speak with Gary about this topic or how it will affect individual retailers on a 1 on 1 basis please contact Tom Roulston at (216)780-9581 or

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