Proxima has been a beacon of stability in a changing world of procurement outsourcing service providers. It does not follow the acquisition strategy of Accenture or the various changes in approach we have seen from Xchanging, 2 of its major competitors – rather, a steady, organic growth over the last 20 years. That has come internationally, with particular strength, and offices, in the UK and US. There are few publicly available figures, but the firm employs around 500 staff, we estimate. Some clients outsource all indirect spend to the firm; in other cases, Proxima will take on just 1 or 2 categories, if that is required.
The firm is privately owned. The senior team in the main goes back to the beginnings of the firm, which helps with the long-term view, and many clients have been on the books for a considerable time, too, such as Universal Music and Morrisons Supermarkets. But that’s not to picture Proxima as slow or old-fashioned. The firm has consistently recruited highly capable procurement practitioners and has looked to be at the forefront of both procurement thought and execution.
While the firm first started with a focus on offering cost reduction services, Proxima now tends to focus less on share of savings-type deals than some of its competitors. That does mean it loses out in some bid situations where the customer wants a deal structured like that; but Proxima also tends to have quite a stable client base compared with some rivals. Indeed, the biggest strength of the firm is probably customer intimacy – really understanding what the client wants and working in a collaborative manner to deliver that.
In recent times, Proxima has started to offer more in the way of procurement consulting services, as well as outsourcing. The firm has also produced some very strong and interesting content over the years – its work to identify the percentage of firms’ revenues accounted for by third-party spend has been quoted extensively, for instance.
All in all, Proxima is certainly a firm to have on your shortlist for pretty much any procurement outsourcing opportunity.