Li & Fung headquarters

BEIJINGLi & Fung has expanded its leadership team, appointing Darren Palfrey as the firm’s chief digital officer, a newly-created position for the heritage sourcing and trading company of 113 years.

Palfrey’s challenge is to realize Li & Fung’s vision of the “supply chain of the future”–one built for speed rather than costs–and build a fully-integrated digital platform that connects the some 8,000 retailers and 15,000 suppliers in the Li & Fung network.

“Our role as a traditional sourcing company is quickly transitioning to becoming a provider of supply chain services and solutions that leverage technology and data to create value,” said Spencer Fung, chief executive officer of Li & Fung. “2019 is the year of acceleration of our digital strategy and that’s where our new CDO Darren comes in. I look forward to creating a new generation of digital solutions to help our customers and partners revolutionize their supply chains.”

The company has touted its 3-D design software that helps to reduce, on average, 20 percent of the lead time from design to store, in turn helping customers reduce the need for mark downs and inventory.

Stewarded since 2014 by Fung who is the fourth generation of the founding family, the firm is in the midst of a sea change for the e-commerce era. In October, Fung also brought in a new chief operating officer, Wilson Zhu.

Li & Fung described Palfrey as a “successful entrepreneur with over two decades of industry experience” who held prior leadership roles including divisional director of supply chain at Allport, development director at Uniserve Group, and in the supply chain team at TTC Global.

“Most recently, Darren co-founded and was [chief operating officer] of Gravity Supply Chain, at which his team developed and brought to market, a state-of-the-art digital supply chain management platform,” said Li & Fung.

A U.K. national, Darren graduated from the University of Manchester with a bachelor of arts in commerce.

The company is next due to report its full year earnings in March.

Related: CEO Talks: Spencer Fung on the Remaking of a Stalwart >>