FIGURES released by the Institut français de la mode (Ifm) and quoted by the French business press show that consumption of women’s lingerie dipped by 1.6 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2015. During the same period, consumption of men’s underwear sagged by 2.1 per cent. The Ifm report added that the French market for bodywear was estimated to be worth EUR 4bn in 2014 but is showing signs of weakening further. Commenting on the weakness of the market, trade federation President Dominique Seau cited several factors that created difficulties for the French bodywear supply chain. These include the stronger clout of volume distributors’ buying offices following recent mergers, stronger competition from distributors’ private labels, the weak Euro that prevented spinners and knitters from benefiting from lower cotton prices quoted in USD, the unwillingness of retailers to respect payment terms, and the reluctance of credit insurers to cover payment risks even for trade with major distributors.
Of course, if lower unemployment caused confidence to rise and consumption to grow, most entrepreneurs could cope with the problems cited.