19 September 2002 | Robin Parker
Leading footwear manufacturers are to join forces to speed up the supply of their goods to stores and the export market.
The British Footwear Association (BFA) is leading a project to study ways of sharing warehouses and distribution channels, to reduce manufacturers' costs and improve deliveries.
The scheme is a partnership between the association and the Industry Forum, a three-year initiative backed by the Department of Trade and Industry to help clothing manufacturers and retailers work together.
The pilot scheme will start in Northamptonshire later this month, where 15 leading shoe manufacturers are based, including perennial youth favourite Dr Martens and the industrial footwear firm Totectors.
Niall Campbell, director of the BFA, said shoe shops often need small "top up" supplies of products, which firms can team up to provide more regularly.
"We are lucky to have this geographical cluster and want to take advantage of it," he said.
"It's been taken for granted until now that manufacturers all do their own thing, and logistics in particular has been seen as a competitive issue, but we want to prove the value of clubbing together."
Campbell said that once manufacturers have signed, the association will involve retailers and could ultimately look at collaborating on the more commercially sensitive area of in-bound materials.