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Leading fashion brands increase "data talent" by 40% in the past year

Lauretta Roberts
03 September 2021

Big name fashion and apparel brands, such as Levi Strauss and Nike, have invested heavily in onboarding staff with an expertise in data and AI in a bid to build their competitive advantage, a new study reveals.

Analysis of the hiring patterns of 22 leading fashion companies, including Inditex, Kering, LVMH, Burberry, Adidas, H&M and more, shows that they have increased the number of data recruits by 40% over 2020.

There are now there are 8.2 data-related employees per $1 billion of revenue among retailers indexed by algorithmic merchandising firm Nextail.

Nextail has devised the annual Retail Data-Forwardness Index (RDI) to better measure how much of their overall budget fashion businesses are investing in data science, data analysis and artificial intelligence by way of such hires.

It divides the number of data-related employees by the overall revenue for each retailer to create a score which is then ranked against comparable retailers and brands

The index shows that it is sportswear businesses and the big North American corporations that are investing the most, which Nextail suggest could be a hint that they will be the ones best placed to benefit in the new retail landscape. Standout businesses include Nike and Levi Strauss which head this year’s rankings.

Levi Strauss has significantly increased the number of data recruits so that its Retail Data-forwardness score is now 27.4, doubling its score of last. Earlier this year (not included in these figures) Levi’s set up a Machine Learning Bootcamp with the stated objective to “transform the company into a data- and artificial intelligence-powered business”. Employees are being given intensive training in coding, machine learning, and agile ways of working.

Nextail CEO and Co-founder Joaquin Villalba said: “More than ever fashion brands and retailers are investing in talent to help them leverage data in order to future-proof their operations. These professionals empower brands to better interpret data and work with advanced tech across an organisation, to capture the full potential of retailer data and beyond, ultimately providing a better customer experience.”


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