Risks relating to the sourcing market
The high quality requirements imposed on HUGO BOSS products and, in turn, on sourcing and production processes make close partnering with suppliers essential. However, concentration of production capacity can result in sales losses in the event of production downtime. Strategic suppliers are regularly inspected and rated so that any adverse developments are detected early and appropriate countermeasures can be implemented. A concentration of risk could also result from regional incidents affecting several suppliers, divisions or product groups at the same time.
To secure a reliable supply of production material and capacity at suitable quality and cost levels, orders to suppliers as well as capacity utilization are coordinated centrally. The supplier structure is regularly reviewed in order to detect sovereign risk in due time. Given the high quality standards and available production capacities, HUGO BOSS attempts to spread risks by diversification. The sourcing volume is distributed among a global network of suppliers in order to maintain the greatest possible independence from individual procurement markets and producers. Indeed, the largest single independent supplier only made up about 7% of the total sourcing volume (2012: 8%). As a rule, HUGO BOSS avoids single sourcing and identifies alternative suppliers early on as needed to secure the supply of goods in the event of contingencies. Against the backdrop of the known earthquake risks at the Group's own production site in Turkey, particularly thorough measures have been implemented here. Based on a regular analysis of the potential damage, relocation options have been identified and the risks of financial loss covered to the extent possible by taking out insurance.
Given the measures in place, management estimates that risks from dependence on individual suppliers or the regional distribution of the volume sourced are unlikely to occur. The financial consequences of risks in connection with supply chain interdependencies have decreased slightly compared to the prior year thanks to the optimization of sourcing processes and are now classified as minor.
Wage increases in production, which are particularly likely in emerging economies, together with rising prices for raw materials can augment production costs and burden gross profit margin. The HUGO BOSS Group counters this risk with margin-based collection planning, Group-wide measures to improve efficiency in production and sourcing processes, improvements in the use of materials and rigorous implementation of the pricing policy. The lead time in sourcing and production processes provides an opportunity to respond to early warning indicators. Given current developments in emerging economies, it is assumed at present that, although risks from higher production costs are still possible, they would only have a minor negative impact on the expected development of earnings.
The allocation of production capacity as well as raw materials and finished goods as part of the sourcing processes involves planning risks. Deviations from an appropriate allocation can lead to excess allocation resulting in high inventory levels on the one hand. On the other hand, it can also lead to insufficient allocation and the risk of failing to benefit from sales opportunities. In view of the large volumes involved, such misallocations have to be considered likely; depending on their magnitude, the associated financial consequences could have a significant impact on the expected development of earnings. As a consequence, the Group is making great efforts to continually improve forecast quality and shorten lead times to further mitigate this risk. To this end, the electronic integration of suppliers in the Group’s organization was driven forward in the past few years, thereby optimizing transparency along the entire supply chain. Sourcing and production
Product quality is decisive for brand image. With this in mind, HUGO BOSS products are subject to quality assurance controls that are standardized throughout the Group and executed at all steps of the manufacturing process. Production sites are regularly inspected by field technicians who verify whether design and product specifications are being strictly complied with. Entry controls, controls at suppliers and quality checks at the Technical Development Center located at the Metzingen headquarters ensure that the strict quality standards of HUGO BOSS are followed and that goods are supplied to customers in immaculate conditions and on schedule. Nevertheless, a certain amount of product returns for quality reasons is still very likely in the future. However, the impact on the development of earnings is classified as minor to moderate due to the recognition of appropriate provisions for returned goods and the regular review of the amounts recognized.Sourcing and production
Raw materials and finished goods are stored in a small number of selected locations that guarantee the highest quality standards. The central distribution center for hanging garments at the Group's headquarters in Metzingen and the commissioning of a modern flat goods warehouse in 2014 reinforce this consolidation trend. HUGO BOSS is exposed to logistics risks, mainly related to the outage or loss of warehouses. To counteract the risk of losing raw materials or finished goods and, in turn, sales due to interruptions in supply, warehouses of strategic importance are operated by the Group and extensive technical and organizational measures for fire prevention and security are implemented; their observance is continually inspected. HUGO BOSS has also taken out insurance to cover the indirect financial risk from a loss of warehoused goods or the outage of the Group's own production facilities. The risks involved in commencing operations at the new flat goods warehouse are minimized with the support of professional project management and by gradually increasing its capacity. Taking into account the measures in place, the likelihood of occurrence with respect to logistics risks has remained nearly unchanged compared to the prior year and is still classified as possible. However, the associated financial consequences are expected to be minor.
Sales and distribution risks
The increasing significance of the Group's own retail business has led to an increased inventory risk, particularly in the event of unfavorable macroeconomic developments. The challenge of inventory management is to optimize inventories without compromising the ability to rapidly respond to customer orders. To mitigate inventory risks and optimize inventories in general, replenishment activities are coordinated by a competence center. Write-downs provide for inventory risks from slow-moving goods and the resulting reduction in marketability; these are reviewed at regular intervals. Sufficient write-downs were recognized as of the reporting date from management's perspective. A downturn in demand or an erroneous assessment of sell-through rates can have a negative impact on stock turnover and possibly result in higher discounts. The countermeasure of granting additional discounts necessarily translates to a reduced margin and is therefore continually monitored by the controlling department. A centrally managed pricing policy, differentiated retail channels and collections adjusted to the respective distribution channel serve to further improve the efficiency of sales floor space. Nevertheless, unanticipated developments in sales markets leading to additional discounts or higher impairment losses will still be possible in the future. The Managing Board estimates the resulting effects on the net assets, financial position and results of operations of the Group to be moderate.
Attention is paid to ensuring a balanced customer structure to avoid a potential overdependence on customers in the wholesale channel. The expansion of the Group's own retail activities reduces the overall dependence on the wholesale business. Indicators such as order backlog, sales and supply rates are monitored continually and in a timely manner by the controlling department. In addition, bad debts can be incurred in the wholesale channel. This risk is a function of both macroeconomic developments as well as the individual situation of customers. The HUGO BOSS Group is thus exposed to the negative impact of the insolvency of individual business partners and a concentration of bad debts in the event of a deterioration of economic conditions in individual markets and regions. The Group-wide receivables management based on uniform rules which has been implemented in the past, was intensified further by introducing centrally coordinated measures. These focus on credit rating checks and the setting and observance of customer credit limits, monitoring of the age structure of receivables and the handling of doubtful accounts. In specific cases, this also means that deliveries are only made upon prepayment or by agreeing other terms designed to secure payment, or to the discontinuation of business with customers with an insufficient credit rating. The internal audit function regularly checks compliance with these Group guidelines. As of the reporting date, there was no concentration of default risk caused by significant overdue payments of individual customers. Consequently, risks in connection with the default of wholesale partners are possible but their overall impact is estimated to be minor. Notes to the consolidated financial statements, Note 16