Nothing gives more satisfaction to a customer than a quality product/service. Steve Jobs once said, ‘Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves’. Now, how do you do that? Simply by being in the shoes of a customer – something which Gloria Jeans believes in doing.

Quality control, therefore, becomes crucial for an organisation. “We have a quality control team in our Vietnam office but they do not sit here. They go to factories daily and work there,” said Kirill Alferov, General Manager of Gloria Jeans Vietnam Representative Office while speaking to the team of Apparel Resources .

From being a manufacturing giant to becoming a retail colossus in Russia, Gloria Jeans opened its sourcing office in Vietnam in 2012 and has been ever since shipping quality products from Vietnam to its retail stores in Russia. The company, which is one of the largest vertically integrated retailers in Russia, today has 21 factories across Russia and Ukraine. “The factories in Russia do the production for our retail stores in Russia and other countries,” averred Kirill.

The company’s representative office in Vietnam has a sourcing department, which mainly looks into costing and placing orders with the customers. Besides, the well-furnished office has departments for merchandising, quality control and quality assurance and the combined workforce is over fifty. As Kirill corroborated, “Earlier our office had 15 people but now it has increased to 54. After I joined the company, I set up the QA department and so quality is what we are focusing at.”

The company has been sending its quality control team to all the factories that it is associated with. Each factory has its own ways of checking and improving the standards of quality, yet Gloria Jeans thinks otherwise. “And, why not?” enquired the young General Manager further adding, “If you think like a customer, you will know exactly what to give to them.”

It actually takes a lot of time to build a relationship with the factories. Relationships help in building trust. Only after these factories win over the trust and confidence of a sourcing office, can the sourcing office think of relying blindly on the quality control department of these factories. “Let these factories start giving good quality and succeed to win our faith, and it will not take much time for us to then stop sending quality teams to the factories,” said Kirill.

Another reason behind the company’s initiative to personally monitor and check quality has been its engagement in cut-make-package-thread (CMPT) in Vietnam rather than in freight on board (FOB). All the orders get placed through CMPT and the risk is alarmingly high unlike FOB.

In FOB, the only risk that the buyer has is that of not receiving merchandise at stores; however, in CMPT, the buyer has to take the onus of everything right from the shortage of raw materials to the quality of the products and delay.

The company at present does 90 per cent CMPT business in Vietnam and only 10 per cent in FOB. However, going forward, it intends to make some strategical changes and will focus more on FOB. “A significant increase in volume makes it difficult for the firm to do business through CMPT,” remarked Kirill.

Business is definitely growing for Gloria Jeans. In 2016, Gloria Jeans shipped 20 million pieces from Vietnam, which is US $ 33 million by FOB. This year by September, the company has already shipped 29 million pieces, which means they have already surpassed last year’s figures. Now that’s phenomenal. To put in Kirill’s own words, “It’s growing mainly because 95 per cent items are duty-free.”

Gloria Jeans is today associated with as many as 39 factories across north and south Vietnam and has been regularly sending its QC teams there. Some of its prominent factories are Nam Tiep Joint Stock Company, An Long Garment Company Limited, Leading Star Vietnam Garment Joint Stock Company, Nguyen Phung Tinh Garment One Member Company Limited, Van Phu Garment Joint Stock Company, Mo Tong Textile Co. Ltd., among others.

The company has also lately invested in the Amber Road software. It is actually a cloud-based platform that handles all aspects of global trade including facilitating product development and global sourcing, automating risk and quality management as well as managing transportation, duty programs, import and export compliance and supply chain visibility.

Kirill stated, “We involve all parts of supply chain in Amber Road software. It’s used in accounts, costing as well as on the production floor. It’s like ERP software. Each person who has logged in can see every stage. Using the intelligence gathered by technologies, supply chain executives are able to optimise their global networks to achieve sustainable improvements and savings.”

Amidst the various production centres in Russia, Ukraine, Hong Kong, China, Bangladesh, and India, Vietnam carries exclusive value for Gloria Jeans. The country’s free trade agreement (FTA) with Russia-led EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union) helps in providing tax-free benefits, thereby ensuring smooth trade between Vietnam and Russia. “Ever since FTA came into effect last year, we started placing many orders in Vietnam. Efficiency in Cambodia is less compared to Vietnam mainly due to the presence of labour unions and frequent strikes. That’s why Vietnam is very important for Gloria Jeans,” explained Kirill.

Though the company started with jeans, today it is into everything from winterwear to pullovers. It designs, produces and sells fashion apparel, footwear and accessories both for adults and kids under Gloria Jeans and Gee Jay brands, respectively.

The company presently also has plans in the pipeline to expand to Eastern Europe. With continual focus on customer satisfaction of higher order, the day is not far when Gloria Jeans will realise its dream of entering Eastern Europe as well.

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