Six years ago, Sri Lankan apparel giant Brandix reached a crossroads. The business had metamorphosed organically with clusters of independent business units operating within. This model had worked well in the past. But the nature of the global apparel game was changing, and the company too had to evolve. Brandix began to futureproof itself. It set itself two targets; the first was to transform into a best-in-class organisation from its current avatar.
Second, to achieve this while doubling its turnover and size of business. Natasha Boralessa, Director at Brandix Apparel, is one of the people within the organisation tasked with leading this formidable undertaking. The buzz of the manufacturing floor, the noise of the machines, the fast-paced dynamism of the sector and interactions with people from all walks of life are aspects of the job that drew Natasha to the apparel industry 22 years ago.
“The challenge for the apparel industry is how we operate in this new-normal scenario of internet-based retail. Traditional retail is not as agile as what online-based retail can offer.”
This is also what keeps her going and sculpts parts of the transformation process that is unfurling at Brandix. One of the first areas of change was the simplification of its internal processes—each strategic business unit had grown independently and become decentralised. “From a supply chain point of view, for example, when you have five different supply chains operating independently, you can’t benefit from negotiations for bulk discounts that come from operating as a single business,” explains Boralessa.
With Brandix’s size, this was not conducive to achieving economies of scale. It was also self-containing. “To drive this transformation, one of the things we focused on was having world-class governance and transparency,” says Boralessa. Another area of focus was to converge, standardize and simplify core functions such as HR, marketing, engineering, finance that were spread across the SBUs. “We had to simplify and align all our metrics so that the entire organisation had a singular perspective of what we measure, how we measure, and how we course correct,” she states.
Change management is not an easy process, especially for mature organisations in highly competitive industries. Brandix’s transformation was made a possibility as a result of the close-knit leadership team taking on the mantle of change and the middle management leading by example.
Globally, apparel manufacturers are also contending with a changing retail industry. “The challenge for the apparel industry is how we operate in this new-normal scenario of internet-based retail. Traditional retail is not as agile as what online-based retail can offer. Our biggest test for the future is to deal with an operating model that can support this new-normal,” reflects Boralessa. “We will also continue to innovate and be agile to stay true to our commitment of delivering inspired solutions,” she says.