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Case Analysis ZARA: Fast Fashion

By: Parth Mair (094240)

1.Business Model of Zara
Concept of Zara's business model It is often cited as "Dell in the fashion industry" due to its excellent supply chain
The core concept of Zara's business model is they sell "medium quality fashion clothing at
affordable prices", and vertical integration and quick-response is key to Zara's business
model. The business system of Zara consists of designing, sourcing and manufacturing,
distribution and retailing. There are four fundamental success factors: short cycle time, small
batches per product, extensive variety of product every season and heavy investment in
information and communication technology. These four elements are involved in every
aspect of the business.
Each year several hundred thousand SKUs are produced based on 11,000 distinct items
varying in color, fabric and size. Zara accomplishes this huge variance by ordering small
batches and internal production of the most stylish, and therefore most time-sensitive items.
The cycle time from beginning of the design phase to the arrival of the finished goods in the
stores is 4 to 5 weeks for new items and 2 weeks for modifications to existing items.
Zara has developed its sourcing and manufacturing very well and now it is its competitive
advantage. Zara uses an Inditex subsidiary, Comditel, for its purchasing of fabric.
Approximately half the fabric is purchased in grey to allow for flexibility in manufacturing a
variety of colors and patterns. This is a key component of the business cycle as the fabric is
finished in just one week. The particular distinction of Zara's manufacturing is that they
manufactured its most fashion-sensitive products internally and produce in small batches for
the most time-sensitive ones.
For distribution, all merchandise is shipped through either the central facility in Arteixo,
Spain, or through satellite sites located in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Merchandise in the

main facility has a capacity of only 45,000 folded garments per hour. This facility admittedly
has its limitations unless more capacity can be created elsewhere. Also, the vertical
integration of manufacturing and distribution greatly helped to reduce the Bullwhip effect.
On the retailing end, the business model allows for Zara to have a much more fashion
forward line because it can commit to its product line much later in the season. In fact, the
design process does not seem to stop and the designers are constantly evaluating consumer
2. Challenges Faced by ZARA

Changing fashion trends leads to introduction of new products in different countries

increase costs R&D.

Vertical integration often cannot be viable option as it can lead to the inability to
acquire economies of scale, which means Zara cannot gain the advantages of

producing large quantities of goods for a discounted rate.

Zara has not invested in distribution facilities to support their global expansion. They
may not be able to supply to many global retail locations due to their centralized

logistic model.
Developing vertically integrated supply chain system incurs very high cost in
developed countries.

3. ZARA Vs. Competitors

Gap, H&M and Benetton are considered Zara's three closest comparable international
competitors. As in the product positioning map, Zara is relatively perceived as more
fashionable than all the other three and prices less than Benetton and Gap but higher than
H&M. In these four competitors, Benetton and Gap place at relatively less fashionable and
higher price, while Zara and H&M is more fashionable and price lower.
In the matrix which analyzed the operating and financial performance of the 4 companies in
the year of 2001, we can see that H&M is the closest competitor in many dimensions, such as
ROE, Gross and Net Profit Margin, etc. Also, H&M's focused approach to international
market is more similar to Inditex's expansion style than the other two closest competitors.





Net Margin




Asset Turnover