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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Feb. 18, 2021

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Feb. 18, 2021

Brazen Warehouse Heist in Texas; Under Armour Pursuing Direct to Consumer; US Manufacturing Output Slowly Recovering; New York State Sues Amazon over Lack of Virus Protection



That was the value of four truckloads of goods that were stolen in just minutes from a distribution center in Carrollton, Texas used by GoTrax, a distributor of hoverboards, scooters and similar gear. In the brazen theft, caught on video cameras, several people first jumped the fence outside the DC. It is not clear how – an accomplice that works at the DC seems likely – but the thieves acquired a key for the small yard mule truck that was blocking the gate and moved it. The perpetrators then cut the gate chains and within minutes, four semi tractors made their way inside the yard and quickly attached to trailers. Just minutes later, the tractors with the now attached trailers full of expensive GoTrax inventory, are seen driving away, with each trailer holding about $150,000 worth of inventory. According to the time stamps on the videos, the whole theft took less than 20 minutes – speed that seems certainly enabled by inside information about what trailers to heist.




That's how many retailers that sports gear maker Under Armour will stop selling through by the end of 2021, as the company puts more focus on its direct to consumer business. As such, Under Armour is mirroring rival Nike's strategy, which a couple of years ago announced plans to cut if retail channels globally from some 36,000 to a few dozen. Last June, Nike also announced its Consumer Direct Acceleration program – the term says it all. Under Armour said the retail channel reductions would still leave it with 10,000 retailers by the end of 2022, but the direction is clear. In 2020, Under Armour said wholesale revenue fell 25% to $2.4 billion, while direct to consumer sales rose 2% to $1.8 billion, driven by a 40% gain in ecommerce sales. Analysts have criticized the company for selling too much merchandise through traditional retailers, which often ends up marked down and dilutes the brand's value. Coach and Levi Straus are headed down a similar path, among other brand companies.




That was the level of the monthly index of US manufacturing output for January, as announced this week by the Federal Reserve Bank. That was up a solid 1.1 percentage points from December's reading of 102.8, and marks five consecutive months of increasing production, a slow but steady comeback. Still, the January reading remains below the February level of about 105 prior to the virus outbreak in March. It was also 1% below the January 2020 reading. And at 103.9, it means US manufacturing output is just 3.9% above the baseline year of 2012 (index = 100) now some nine years later, or growth of well less than 1% per year. Factory utilization came in at 75.2%, also representing a slow but steady improvement over the past five months, but below the average of 78.1% from 1972 to 2020.




$11.5 Billion

That's how much Amazon says it spent last year on various measures related to the coronavirus-related programs. Not nearly enough, says New York state Attorney General Letitia James. She filed a lawsuit this week against Amazon that accuses the on-line retailer of not doing enough to protect workers in the state from the coronavirus. The complaint alleges that Amazon failed to comply with state cleaning and disinfection requirements at its facilities, and that the company also didn't adequately notify employees of infected co-workers. The action also accuses Amazon not closing fulfillment center for cleaning after some workers were diagnosed with Covid-19. And in what would seem to be an unrelated issue, the suit also criticized the company for its detailed tracking of workers and disciplining them based on productivity rates – a standard practice in thousands of non-Amazon distribution centers. All that after Amazon sued James last week to prevent the state from taking legal action against the company over its handling of worker safety during the pandemic, in part arguing that New York lacked the legal authority to regulate the company's warehouse activities.

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