Fast-expanding volumes of luxury and fashion cargo have freight forwarding specialists tightening security to protect high-value goods from rising risks of theft.
The luxury goods sector is booming, with some studies estimating 2017 market value of around $1 trillion rising to $1.26 trillion by 2024. Sales of personal luxury goods climbed to $262 billion last year, of which designer apparel was a leading category. To get surging volumes of high-value fashion from production centers to eager consumers, however, marketers need top security and specialized handling capacities from transport and logistics partners. Consequently, freight forwarders have moved to provide protected, state-of-the-art warehousing tailored to fashion clients' requirements.
Urgency to provide logistics adapted to the rapidly growing fashion industry has been accentuated by two related developments. Most troubling is the threat of theft, which has risen along with volume and value of high-end clothing in global supply chains. Because of that, transport and logistics providers have had to reinforce security procedures and infrastructure for designer apparel, using the best hi-tech means to dissuade and thwart would-be thieves.
Meantime, increased competition, faster renewal rates of clothes lines and changing strategies of in-store stock levels require fashion companies to adopt more responsive supply chains than before. That means rapid transport of clothes from storage centers to stores, and often added-value preparation of items in warehouses ensuring goods are ready for display and sale upon arrival.
The stakes involved in those challenges are even larger in countries where high-value clothing is not just designed, but also manufactured, marketed and exported. Such is the case for Italy, where luxury and fashion represents a considerable portion of national GDP, about 11% of all exports and nearly 50% of the country's 2017 commercial surplus.
It was due in large part to fashion's critical role in Italian activity that global freight forwarding specialist Bolloré Logistics undertook major security and efficiency upgrades of its Pantigliate warehouse near Milan. Serving many of the group's top fashion clients, the facility's strengthened surveillance, inspection, verification and guard procedures and technologies earned it the coveted A Level TAPA FSF certification last February.
"The improvements were made to assure maximum security for high-value fashion clients whose apparel we handle in the warehouse – though they also benefit other goods stored there," explains Luigi Brunetti, Managing Director of Bolloré Logistics Italy, which accounts fashion as 33% of its business. "The warehouse's proximity to the Milan airport also reduces risk to merchandize during transport for export abroad, with armed escort of goods available if the client requests it."
The facility – Bolloré Logistics' first TAPA-certified warehouse in Europe, and second globally – offers three rings of security around high-valued clothing inside. First is strict scheduling and verification of vehicles and people entering the compound, followed by computer-controlled ID badges required of everyone penetrating the warehouse. Inside, designer cargo is protected in a new 200 square-meter high-value cargo vault, which is locked, monitored 24/7 by video surveillance and restricted to all but a small number of approved employees.
"Prior to reinforcing the site, we underwent a complete risk assessment analysis to tighten and improve security against all threats we anticipated, plus identify and apply measures for previously unrecognized risks," says Manuela Aiolfi, QHSE Manager for Bolloré Logistics Italy. "The trick was creating tight security and strict procedures that didn't slow the reactivity and rapidity our clients need to get their goods moving."
To provide that, the warehouse uses dedicated labeling and pick teams, fast-moving garment-on-hangar infrastructure, maximized automation and – like heightened security features – powerful IT systems overseeing facility operation.
"These improvements are critical in meeting current client requirements, and preparing for what customers say will be a 15-20% increase of volume to our warehouse this year alone," Mr. Brunetti says.