Manufacturing Today - May/June 2017 - 130
www.cupidintimates.com / HQ: New York City, N.Y. / Employees: 1,240 / David Welsch, president and CEO: "Our own creative energy is the fuel that drives our bottom-line results."
Flexible, Yet In Control
cupid intimates charts its own course while thriving on
product and process innovation. by hugo pennitt
cupid takes pride in its flexibility,
which is demonstrated in its
production and the way it
responds to client demands.
Like the intimate apparel it's made
for 75 years, Cupid Intimates' strategic
vision and day-to-day practices rely
on a combination of firm operational
control and the flexibility to adjust to
ever-changing industry conditions and
Unusual in the apparel industry, Cupid designs and manufactures all its
women's shapewear and panties itself.
This gives management a freer hand to
use efficient production techniques to
pursue its cost-competitive position.
For example, by intensively using
fewer fabrics, the firm extracts the
highest yields and greatest accuracy from production planning. At the
same time, fewer fabrics reduce design and production time. And, the
manufacturing-today.com MAY/JUNE 2017
sales team can give new styles a longer
leash to succeed in the marketplace.
This, in turn, leads to fewer markdowns. Cupid's suppliers benefit too,
since they can run more efficiently,
lower their R&D/sales ratios, and take
fewer markdowns themselves.
"It's a virtuous cycle," says Ken
Langston, Senior Vice President of
Operations. "Our production efficiencies deliver savings to our fabric
suppliers, and they're able to pass
these cost reductions back to us."
Cupid Intimates also leverages
its production-planning regimen to
smooth production flow and maximize its order-completion rate. Employing sewing schedules, SKU guide
lists, flow-problem meetings, rolling
cut plans, and a calendaring process,
the company's production-planning
department keeps time and material
waste to a minimum.
"We have to balance the competing
wishes of our sales team against the de
facto realities faced by our purchasing
department and factory-floor staff.
Planning is a sometimes frustrating,
often challenging, and always critical
component of what we do as a manufacturer," says Eddie Skaggs, vice
president of planning.
Precisely because its quality standards are so high, and so consistently met, Cupid uses a direct-to-stock
warehousing program. Goods move
from the production floor to warehouse shelves without requiring
quality inspections, saving time and
A Different Drummer
By controlling production, management fosters a non-confrontational atmosphere with its employees
- translating to lower turnover and
greater product quality than would
otherwise be possible. Its offshore
factories and onshore distribution
center are unionized and management has welcomed, even encouraged, this.
In keeping with this cooperative
spirit, policies and practices at its
offshore plants exceed the workplace
standards required by Worldwide
Responsible Accredited Production
(WRAP), and meet and exceed the
independent, factory-audit requirements of its largest retail accounts.
For example, both of its factories con-