Marks & Spencer and Zara: Process Competition in the Textile Apparel Industry (French)

Published 28 Feb 2005
Reference 4974
Topic Operations
Region Global
Length 16 page(s)
Language French

This case was written to illustrate the importance of business process design as a basis for competition in the textile industry. The case illustrates the impressive performance of Zara, the new fashion player from Spain, which has innovated in process design so as to deliver new collections in its stores with a lead-time of 5 to 7 days. The more traditional approach in textile retailing is illustrated here by Marks and Spencer (M&S), the well-known UK retailer. Notwithstanding M&S's current problems, the case does not fall into an overly simple comparison between a young, innovative competitor and an ageing glory. The authors have taught this case both in executive education and in the MBA core class on process and operations management.

Teaching objectives

There are four important concepts that are stressed, more or less, depending on pedagogical objectives: (1) newsvendor losses in the textile industry; (2) the role of postponement in final design; (3) the 'lean enterprise' aspect of Zara; and (4) process competition and innovation, embedded in technology evolution.

  • Process competition
  • Operations management
  • Supply chain
  • Retail apparel
  • Delayed customisation
  • Time-based competition
  • Newsboy model
  • Innovation
  • RD0510