URGING GREATER RETAILER-VENDOR DIALOGS

NEW YORK — Arnold Cohen, co-chairman of the accounting firm of Mahoney Cohen & Co., sees the need for a new organization specifically aimed at improving retail-vendor relations.
Cohen was one of the panelists at last week’s WWD Financial Forum on factor-retail-vendor relationships.
“We handle hundreds of clients in the apparel industry,” Cohen said, “from start-ups to manufacturers doing almost a billion dollars in sales a year. They feel frustration, that it’s a one-way street, all in the retailers’ direction. Things are being done unfairly. Goods are put on sale as soon as they hit the store. There is a need for markdown money. We all cry together but we are afraid to get together and do anything about it.
“Presently it’s a confrontational relationship as far as who is going to outdo whom. The manufacturer doesn’t have the clout to do anything. It’s all only one-sided.
“And the consumer is losing out. There is so much emphasis on cost that there is no imagination or creativity by manufacturers who are simply trying to survive against adversity. There are no start-up firms. We used to do one a week. No one starts up new companies in this apparel market.”
What is needed, says Cohen, is a new forum.
“The answer is the creation of a manufacturers association whose purpose it would be to sit down together with a similar organization of retailers to develop a think tank so that common problems could be discussed. It should not be a gang-up situation. It should be a partnership.”

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