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H&M Company: Procurement and Supply Research Paper

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Updated: Oct 17th, 2020

Executive Summary

The H&M group is a clothing company with the international presence. Being a representative of the fast fashion segment requires the sufficient selection of the suppliers of yarn and fabric. This sourcing plan portrays that H&M has a well-developed international network of suppliers, and the continuous development of technology contributes to the expansions of the options.

One of the suitable techniques to create added value is contracting. In this case, the contracts have to include ethical obligations, responsibilities, and information about quality, timing, and quantity. Another approach to increasing the added value is the continuous evaluation of the yarn market and newcomers. Simultaneously, H&M should monitor the performance of the current suppliers. A combination of these aspects will assist in selecting suppliers with the best price-to-quality ratio and drive a shift in revenues while reducing production costs.

Speaking of assessment of options, one has to pay careful attention to the numerical and financial measures such as ROI and gross profit margin when selecting a supplier. H&M has to devote substantial attention to the ability of a supplier to ensure the quality and compliance with H&M’s social responsibility strategy and the Code of Conduct. Meeting these goals is critical since H&M had problems with child labor in the recent past.

When establishing partnerships, one has to take into account the matters such as expected delivery time and alignment with the H&M’s Code of Conduct. These inclusions will assist in avoiding misconceptions in future. Simultaneously, H&M has to negotiate the pricing of yarn and speed and frequency of delivery.

Introduction: Company and Product Descriptions

The fast fashion industry is one of the prosperous spheres in the world. The rising trend of this fashion segment is reasonable. The primary intention of fast fashion is to provide affordable clothing that imitates the modern luxury brands (Joy et al. 273). The trends are swiftly changing every day, and it is unreasonable for some consumers to invest in expensive items (Joy et al. 273). Thus, this clothing brand gives an opportunity to be fashionable with a low budget. It could be said that a combination of these aspects explains the popularity of this trend today and a potential rise in the popularity in the recent future.

H&M is one of the well-developed international brands, which offers everything “from dazzling party collections to quintessential basics and functional sportswear” (“The H&M Group: Facts about H&M” par.1). Originally, the brand was founded in Sweden and focused on the women’s clothes solely (“The H&M Group: Facts about H&M” par.1). Now, it has the international presence and owns the sub-brands such as H&M, Monki, Weekday, and Cheap Monday (“The H&M Group: Facts about H&M” par.1). Nowadays, the brand is widely recognized in the modern world, and it tends to be one of the top clothing companies.

Speaking of H&M’s business strategy, the company prioritizes sustainability, quality, modern design, and variety (“The H&M Group: Our Business Concept” par.1). At the same time, the company claims that the highlighting the goals mentioned above does not question the possibility to provide products for the low price (“The H&M Group: Our Business Concept” par.1). In this case, optimizing supply chain and logistics and using the economies of scale assists the company in offering the stated price to quality ratio.

Despite the well-established brand image worldwide, the firm continues its expansion. For instance, it aims to upsurge the number of stores by 10-15 % annually (“The H&M Group: Global Expansion” par.1). At the same time, it highlights the significance of e-commerce and sustainable growth (“The H&M Group: Global Expansionpar.2). Aiming at the international development gives the company opportunities to expand its market shares and attain an increase in customer retention.

As it was mentioned earlier, the company has an extended variety of the products to satisfy rising needs of the customers. Nonetheless, it could be said that initially, the company’s primary focus was female clothing (“The H&M Group: Facts about H&M” par.1). It remains apparent that the clothes and its attributes consist out of various components. Thus, the fabric dominates in the outlook and design of the outfit. Consequently, in the context of the presented case, it will be easier to select the process of purchasing textile such as yarn as one of the critical areas of expenditure.

Thus, the primary goal of the paper is to provide the sourcing plan for H&M clothing, especially, selecting the suppliers of textile. Firstly, it is critical to discuss the impact of procurement and supply and underline the inputs, which can be made by the stakeholders of the organization. Simultaneously, it is vital to assess the suppliers of the company and current market. Subsequently, the techniques to enhance the added value of the product will be proposed. At the same time, the suggested sourcing plan has to take into account the inclusions in the contracts formed in future. Furthermore, the aspects, which require negotiations, have to be highlighted. In the end, the conclusions are drawn to summarize the findings and propose a preliminary action plan.

Values of Procurement and Supply


In the first place, the procurement is the business procedure, which implies selecting the most suitable suppliers and performing buying activities within the set timeframe (Pablos et al. 16; Jefferies and Rowlison 45). It could be said that it ensures the connection between suppliers, manufacturing unit, management, and services. Thus, it remains apparent that this process consists out of several stages such as planning, standardization, evaluation of suppliers, and contracting (Pablos et al. 16; Walker and Rowlison xvii).

All of the phases mentioned above are critical for the effective functioning of any company. For instance, planning implies understanding and evaluating the current needs in suppliers and availability of financial resources to finance these partnerships (Billows 35). At the same time, it contributes to the effective distribution of time and proposes a sequence of phases to be taken to reach the required goals (Billows 45).

Thus, one has to understand that procurement requires sufficient planning and continuous evaluation of the factors. In this case, effective procurement implies following the described stages thoroughly and define the goals concisely (Coyle et al. 586). In the context of H&M, the company respectively cherishes its values and tries to be socially responsible for their actions (“H&M: Responsible Purchasing” par.1). Ensuring effective communication between the different parts of the supply chain is a critical goal of H&M (“H&M: Responsible Purchasing” par.1).

It remains apparent that the company understands the significance of the procurement, as the volumes of the revenue are dependent on it. It could be said that H&M takes advantages of the effective procurement and highlights it as one of its values by employing the concepts of responsible purchasing (“H&M: Responsible Purchasing” par.1).


At the same time, one cannot underestimate the role of supply in H&M’s success and production processes. Broadly speaking, supply is one of the basic components of the economic theory (Sloman 41). Supply implies the number of goods that are available for the purchase (Arnold 53). Simultaneously, despite being one of the definers of the situation in the market, it is also driven by the demand side. In this case, understanding these concepts helps H&M plan the production process and understand the volumes of goods, which are required to be produced to satisfy the rising needs of the consumers. Prioritizing the capacities of supply and demand is critical, as, otherwise, the excess of supply will cultivate losses.

The understanding of this principle can be referred to logistics and supply chain management (Jacoby 93). It remains apparent that the company cannot focus on producing all the required components for manufacturing, and addressing the service of suppliers is reasonable in the modern world. In this case, supply implies ensuring the sufficient flow of the production processes by providing required materials to deliver the expected goods to the customer.

In the context of the selected company, suppliers play a key role in the production processes and the generation of the revenues of H&M. As it was mentioned earlier, the H&M group ensures its price-to-quality ratio by taking advantage of economies of scale and optimizing the supply chain processes (“The H&M Group: Our Business Concept” par.1). Using this approach enables the company to provide fashionable and high-quality products for an affordable price. It remains apparent that selecting the suitable suppliers is vehemently associated with the concepts of procurement and supply. Thus, this correlation underlines that this procedure plays a pivotal role in producing and delivering the clothing to the customers of the brand.

Stakeholders and Their Inputs

In this case, it remains apparent that the stakeholders can affect the procurement and supply process by initiating inputs. In this case, it is critical to discuss the contribution and influence of each procedure in the selected sphere. H&M has an extended variety of stakeholders, which contribute to the effective decision-making in the organization. The principle groups include customers, communities, employees, suppliers, industry peers, NGOs, investors, and policymakers (“H&M Conscious: Engaging with Our Stakeholders” par.1).

The urgent stakeholders of H&M are community and consumers, as the company is sensitive to the claims of this group (Parent and Deephouse 2). In this case, the customers’ perceived expectations of quality and social values can affect the procurement initiatives. The customer can contribute to the advancement of this area by proving feedbacks and participating in the satisfaction inquiries.

At the same time, employees and suppliers are the critical players, who can affect the production costs. Optimizing the employees’ commitment and motivation pertains to the quality of the selected manufactured goods (Lee and Chen 196). In turn, using the services of a particular supplier affects the overall price of the product. Establishing contracts and profoundly discussing terms of the partnership will help reduce the expenditures on production. Consequently, vehemently engaging with this stakeholder groups and continuously modifying supply chain will assist H&M in cost-effectiveness.

In turn, industry peers and NGOs play the role of advisors of H&M (“H&M Conscious: Engaging with Our Stakeholders” par.1). Developing the concerns about the need to optimize the procurement and demand will assist H&M in meeting its goals and objectives and complying with the mission statement. Following the mentioned suggestions will help the company reduce the expenditures in this sphere.

Furthermore, the investors can input financially to contribute to the cultivation of new procurement initiatives. In this case, the managerial team has to form a clear proposal with the appropriate solutions and rationale for their implementation. Lastly, the policymakers can introduce new restrictions associated with contracting and acquiring. This matter might optimize the procurement and supply and ensure the safety of the partnerships.

Current Suppliers and Supply Market

The H&M Group Suppliers’ Network

As it was mentioned earlier, the company has the international presence and continues to focus on the expansion of its operations worldwide (“The H&M Group: Our Business Concept” par.1). Due to the active operations in the fast fashion industry, H&M has a well-established network of suppliers and logistic companies. It remains evident that company aims at creating long-term relationships with plants and factories to augment its added value.

Therefore, the primary groups of suppliers are represented by manufacturing and processing factories and fabric and yarn mills (“H&M: Supplier List” par. 1). Pursuing the international strategy requires the company to have a substantial number of suppliers around the world. Today, the company has its contractors in the countries such as Vietnam, the USA, Poland, Luxemburg, and Kenya (“H&M: Supplier List” par. 1). Having an extended geographical coverage helps H&M reach its customers globally and use the procurement effectively. It could be said that this matter assists the company in meeting its financial goals and generating additional revenues.

At the same time, H&M highlights the importance of communication, as its ineffectiveness “might lead to tight production lead times” (“H&M: Responsible Purchasing” par.1). The company pay critical attention to the establishment of the partnerships and emphasizes the need to comply with the H&M’s Code of Conduct (“H&M: Responsible Purchasing” par.1). Concurrently, the firm devotes critical attention to the continuous improvement of suppliers and their working conditions (“H&M: Responsible Purchasing” par.1). It could be said that a combination of these practices helps H&M select the suitable and effective suppliers and ensure the alignment with the organizational mission statement and business strategy.

Supply Market

At the same time, it is vital to evaluate the current market of suppliers in the textile industry, as any changes might affect the company’s strategy. In this case, it is critical to assess the current providers of fabric and yarn, as it is the initial focus of the paper. It could be said that the economic phenomenon such as globalization has a critical influence on the availability of the supplier’s possibilities (Majta par.1).

In the context of H&M, the company’s suppliers of yarn are available worldwide (“H&M: Supplier List” par. 1). Currently, the yarn market offers a plethora of options, as the producers of this material are present in many geographical locations. Consequently, the firm can continue its expansion strategy, as more and more suitable plants are introduced to the yarn market every day.

Thus, the competition is intense. The countries such as China, Vietnam, and Pakistan have taken advantage of EU market due to the reduced quotas (Wysokinska 8). In 2007, China was an absolute leader and experienced 50% growth from 2000 until 2006 (Wysokinska 8). As for India and Vietnam, they aim at continuous growth and want to double their volumes of exports (Wysokinska 8). However, in the recent past the market changed, and, nowadays, Vietnam is strengthening its leading positions in the industry (Jamal par. 1). This fact pertains to the lower prices and intensified production of yarn (Jamal par. 1).

It remains apparent that H&M have to consider these tendencies of the current market. Nevertheless, the company has to pay attention to the quality and price of the provided goods simultaneously, as it is a critical aspect of the firm’s mission.

Future Trends in Supply Market

Despite the stability of the yarn and fabric market, one has to understand that social and cultural values might affect the tendencies in the industry. The rising consumer awareness about the potential effect of manufacturing on the environment might change demand in yarn. Utilizing eco-friendly production initiatives such as using recycled content might be one of the popular trends in the near future (Nayar 131). The development of this social movement will require the producers of yarn modify their production processes. As for H&M, the company would have to review its selection criteria to meet customer’s expectations.

Another potential trend that might develop in the yarn manufacturing is 3-d printing. 3-d printing technology is the revolutionizing concept in the modern production process. This innovative solution enables creating yarn fabric and duplicates the pattern of the initial knitting process (Carden 125). The development of this trend might cause the shift in prices for the naturally produced yarn due to the decrease in demand. In this case, H&M has to be prepared to adapt to the discussed changes and consider switching to the suppliers, who take advantage of this technology.

In turn, it is apparent that one cannot underestimate the possibility that the changes in policies might affect the future of the industry. Setting various restrictions and regulations will require changing manufacturing procedures and business practices. It could be said that the analysis conducted above reveals that the modern development of technology and changes in consumer preferences will affect the suppliers of yarn. Subsequently, the H&M group has to consider these trends of a paramount significance when selecting suppliers in future.

Techniques to Improve Added Value

Technique 1: Contracts

At the same time, offering and describing various techniques to enhance the added value of the production process. Thus, optimizing this measure will help minimize the costs and upsurge the possibility of acquiring higher revenues. As it was mentioned earlier, purchasing yarn and fabric is the primary area of expenditure for H&M when producing clothing.

Nowadays, contracts are required safeguarding measures to minimize the risks associated with partnerships (Poppo and Zhou 1509). In this case, setting the standards and proposing favorable agreements will help guarantee that the requested products will be received on time. At the same time, it will enhance procurement and supply, as the contracts will control the actions of both parties.

Despite the clearly defined concepts of contracting, this procedure involves “complexity and recurrence” (Poppo and Zhou 1509). Instantaneously, ensuring fairness is critical, and it can be performed with the help of monitoring and socializing strategies (Poppo and Zhou 1509). At first, the company has to evaluate the behavior of potential contractor, and, subsequently, the informal conversations can also help build trust (Poppo and Zhou 1509).

It could be said a rationale for selecting this strategy is H&M long-term orientations and presence of the economies of scale. Simultaneously, describing the terms of the contract will help the parties meet the obligations (Poppo and Zhou 1509). Highlighting all critical aspects will minimize costs and avoid the misunderstandings in future. It could be stated that having an impact on production costs will influence added value in a positive direction by surging revenues for each good.

Technique 2: Continuous Assessment of Supplier Options

A supplemental strategy to contracting is a continuous evaluation of all suppliers’ options available in the market. As it was revealed in the analysis section, it remains evident that the yarn market is very competitive, and a plethora of options is present (Wysokinska 8). Consequently, the continuous evaluation of the newcomers will help select the most cost-efficient partnerships.

In this case, the company has to use financial procedures to understand the liquidity of new firms. At the same time, using performance measurements will assist in indicating the profitability of the organization (Marr 3). Thus, H&M will gather and monitor the changes in the mentioned category of key performance indicators. Subsequently, the company can introduce the ranking of the suppliers and consider establishing or terminating partnerships. This comparison will reveal the insights about the current condition of the market and adjust to its strategy to the changes.

As for the impact of these procedures on the added value, the continuous analysis of the market will help select the most strategically effective partnerships. This evaluation contributes to selecting the suppliers with the best price-to-quality ratio. As a consequence, H&M can reduce its production costs and enhance the added value. At the same time, the ability to select suppliers with a higher quality gives an opportunity to sell some product categories for a higher price. It could be said that this aspect will generate higher revenues and help create a brand image of the firm, which cherishes its customers. A combination of these factors will improve added value and enhance the procurement procedures.

Technique 3: Evaluating Supplier’s Performance

Despite the significance of contracting and continuous assessment of supplier’s market, one cannot underestimate the impact of the performance of supplier to the added value. It remains apparent that the terms defining the appropriate supplier’s presentation will be described in the contract. In this case, these measures will include quality, quantity, and lead-time. These methods will assess the company’s financial stability and growth (Marr 3). At the same time, H&M has to monitor whether the supplier complies with labor standards and current legislation (Johnson par.3). Focusing on these matters will ensure the alignment of the suppliers’ actions with H&M Code of Conduct and sustainability strategy. It will help propose adjustments and enhance the added value by assuring only high quality and decreased lead times (Johnson par.3).

The subsequent stage implies analysis the rationale to continue this relationship. If the supplier is not able to meet the required expectation, the negotiations have to be conducted. Depending on the result of the negotiations, it will be evident whether it is reasonable to continue this partnership. In this case, complying with the terms described in the contract will be critical, as, otherwise, the adjustments have to be proposed.

Based on the factors provided above, the added value will be enhanced, as the evaluation of performance will help see the ability of the supplier to meet the requirements. Terminating this partnership in time will affect the associated production costs beneficially. Thus, monitoring will be the first step to identify any problems, which might affect the quality and delivery of H&M clothing.

Inclusions in the Contracts

The primary goal of this section is to discuss the aspects, which have to be included in the contracts to avoid misunderstanding and violation of the terms. Nowadays, despite a vast availability of suppliers and a well-developed system of human rights, the ethical issues associated with the fast fashion industry are present (Joy et al. 273). In this instance, H&M has to ensure that the goals of the selected supplier comply with the Code of Conduct and sustainability principles.

Prohibiting child labor and unfavorable working conditions should be highly discussed in the contracts. In the past, the company faced the ethical issues concerning the employment of child labor by its suppliers. For instance, the media reflects that Syrian refugee children were working in the Turkish factories (Pitel par. 1). It was a trigger to ethical scandal and questioned the social responsibility strategy of the company.

At the same time, the contracts have to contain detailed information about terms, volumes, delivery dates, and quality of the provided yarn. Specifying these concepts will help identify the obligations of the supplier and create a particular perception about the quality of the partnership. Simultaneously, it could be said that not meeting the described points will be one of the reasons for the termination of the collaboration.

In this case, H&M has to identify the reasons for the elimination of the contract clearly. As it was mentioned, it will contribute to the understanding of the expectations of the partnership. Clearly describing the responsibilities of both parties will help avoid misunderstandings in future. In the end, it could be said that all of the aspects provided above are equally critical for H&M. The assurance of the ability to comply with the Code of Conduct will ensure the alignment of the partnership with the initial mission. Simultaneously, specifying numerical measures will help define the obligations of the supplier’s side.

Measures to Select Effective Suppliers

Ethical Considerations

Choosing the suitable suppliers is a complicated process, as contracting involves various levels of risks. One of them is the fact that establishment of the partnership with suppliers requires substantial financial investment (Beil 1). It remains apparent that the company usually uses suppliers to optimize its profits and receive benefits. Not meeting these perceived expectations creates difficulties in decision-making in future (Beil 1). Thus, ethical issues are rather common in the modern business world, and this matter should be a critical aspect of the evaluation of potential suppliers of H&M in the recent future.

As for the ethical issues, H&M has one of its own examples from the past, which questioned its social responsibility. In 2013, the Rana Plaza collapse left a notorious mark in H&M’s history (Kasperkevich par. 1). During this accident, 1,138 employees were killed (Kasperkevich par. 1). In turn, the workers of the collapsed factory still complain that no reparations were made (Kasperkevich par. 1). This event negatively affected the image of H&M. It pertains to the need to pay substantial attention to the alignment of suppliers’ practices with H&M’s Code of Conduct and social responsibility strategy.

Consequently, clearly and carefully selecting suppliers is critical, as it has an impact on the company’s image and economic efficiency. Taking into account the matters mentioned above will help the H&M group remain one of the leaders in the industry and avoid legal issues. Alternatively, it could be said that avoiding these issues will reduce the associated risks in future and contribute to restoring company’s image.

Defining KPIs

In spite of the importance of ethical concerns, one cannot underestimate the significance of the nominal and financial KPIs in the selection process. In the first place, it is vital to evaluate the financial stability of the company. In this case, the KPIs such as net profit margin, gross profit margin, revenue growth rate, and return on investment are the ones, which can be actively used to assess the financial performance of suppliers (Marr 3). Alternatively, it could be said that reviewing liquidity and solvency will clarify the need to establish partnerships and contribute to the development.

At the same time, it is critical to assess the volumes of production. This measurement will help see whether the supplier is able to meet the needs of H&M. In turn, the company has to provision the potential market fluctuations and assess the ability of the supplier to persevere with the rising demand. The cost of switching suppliers might be high, and provisioning the changes in demand is reduces subsequent expenses (Nazzini 351). Simultaneously, industrial barriers such as legislation might make this transition complicated or impossible (Nazzini 351).

Quality is not the last aspect, as it has to meet the customers’ expectations and needs. H&M highlights that it provides high quality for a low price (“The H&M Group: Our Business Concept” par.1). Consequently, measuring quality is one of the critical measures. In the end, it could be said that the described KPIs will help understand the financial stability of the company and its future sustainability. Simultaneously, it will help see whether using this supplier is reasonable in the long-term, as the switching costs might be high.

Measuring Compliance with Ethics

In turn, H&M should not underestimate KPIs, which are related to the most common ethical considerations. Thus, underrating these issues in the long-term might affect the brand image of the organization (Gangone 189). All at once, it has an impact on cost-effectiveness and the overall efficiency of the organization (Gangone 189).

It could be said that H&M has to establish a set of measures to monitor the compliance of the suppliers with the principles of business ethics. The company faced ethical issues in future, and, now, it has to pay substantial attention to this matter.

In this case, ethics and sustainability can be evaluated against “environmental, social, and governance criteria including human rights, labor standards, and countering bribery (Johnson par.3). As for the H&M group, the company has to monitor these matters, as they are critical parts of the corporate culture and mission statement. Thus, it remains apparent that H&M has to pay substantial attention to the absence of child labor in the location of suppliers. The company had ethical issues associated with this matter in the past and had to do its best to avoid similar situations in future (Pitel par. 1).

Another measurement that H&M has to consider is the compliance of supply’s environment with the labor standards (Johnson par.3). As it was revealed previously, H&M had a collapse of the factory in the recent past and still deals with the consequences of these ethical issues (Kasperkevich par. 1). Lastly, the level of briary cannot be underestimated, as it will have an impact on the effectiveness of investment in the suppliers.

Aspects that Require Negotiation

At the same time, on the behalf of the sourcing plan, it is vital to discuss matters, which might require negotiations in future. In this case, the clear identification of these matters will help the company deliver its message to the suppliers and define the most important organizational values. One of the factors, which can be negotiated is pricing. It is apparent that it will not be reasonable for a supplier to improve the quality of yarn.

However, ordering in bulks should be one of the reasons to reduce costs of raw materials. In this case, H&M can conduct price-to-quality ratio analysis and suggest potential adjustments to the supplier. Alternatively, H&M has to pay attention to negotiating the frequency of deliveries and their speed. The production volumes and added value are highly dependent on this aspect, and one should adjust these procedures to meet the desired goals.

A combination of matters mentioned above will not only assist in establishing effective and trusting partnerships with well-defined obligations but also has a beneficial influence on the added value. Nonetheless, it remains apparent that the list of the proposed topics and themes is flexible. A person in charge has to monitor the internal and external changes and modify the aspects that require negotiations accordingly.


H&M is one of the leaders in fast fashion, and it has an international presence worldwide. Partly, its success and high revenues are dependent on the suppliers. A well-designed procurement system and supply chain management help optimize relationships with producers of yarn. Thus, globalization of suppliers assists H&M in gaining international presence.

The factors highlighted above pertain to the development of the sufficient plan of actions, which the chosen company has to follow to select the suitable suppliers. Thus, the H&M group has to be prepared to the potential changes in the business environment and be flexible in designing the framework for selecting suppliers. One cannot underestimate this aspect, as identifying any adverse trends will help review the terms of the contract and propose alternative strategies to minimize losses.

As for the potential actions to be taken. In the first place, the company has to evaluate the performance of its current suppliers. Using financial and ethical measures will assist in aligning the actions of partners with H&M Code of Conduct. Meanwhile, H&M has to monitor changes in yarn market and the development of new trends in the industry. Evaluating newcomers financially and ethically will help understand whether it is reasonable to switch suppliers.

Eventually, H&M has to propose contracts to the selected suppliers and negotiate the prices, quality, and delivery time of the raw materials. It could be said that following the sequences of steps will assist H&M in generating higher revenues and reducing production costs.

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