CIPSA split with conference partner – intrigue Down Under?

This may be old news to those readers who are in Australia or follow Australian procurement matters, but I’ve just caught up with it. The partnership between CIPS Australia ( CIPSA) and BTTB, who have been their conference partner and publisher of the magazine since 2004, has come to an end in what seems to be somewhat acrimonious circumstances.

According to the CIPSA conferences site (which I assume is run by BTTB), the company  tried to negotiate a different deal on profit share.

Unfortunately, given the difficult market conditions of the last year and our gloomy forecasts for the remainder of this year, the “profit share” rate and publishing subsidy have become untenable and threaten the very survival of BTTB as a going concern.  We recently raised these issues with CIPS in the hope that this would lead to a renegotiation of the share arrangement to sustainable levels, but after a surprisingly short period of discussion, it has become clear that such a renegotiation is not going to happen”.

Of course, that is one side of the story. The CIPSA take on it is different, as they perceive a simple termination tabled by BTTB rather than a failed re-negotiation.  In a note to members in April, Craig Lardner, the acting CEO of CIPSA, and the CIPS President in waiting for 2013/14, said;

 I am disappointed to have to report that BTTB have issued notice to terminate and will work out their notice period of 6 months. Unfortunately they actioned the notice at a time that meant they would not be part of our 9th Annual conference and have now announced they will be running their own against the institute... The period between now and 1st week October is covered as BTTB will complete their obligations...We will have our 9th Annual conference and the awards night in October and all the components you’ve asked to include will be part of it. Unfortunately BTTB took the Crown venue and the dates we had published, but now for their own event.

Indeed, if the split did come as such a shock to BTTB (as they claim), they certainly moved very rapidly to get their contingency plans in place for their own conference. So BTTB have launched their own new website (here),  and they have a conference planned for October 16th / 17th – the original CIPSA dates and at that venue, and just a week before the CIPSA official conference.  Both are in Melbourne just to confuse everybody further, although CIPSA have rallied quickly to secure what sounds like an impressive alternative venue in the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre.

Now the official CIPSA  event has the advantage of including the 2013 CIPS Australasia Procurement Professional Awards.  On the other hand, looking at the two websites, it is clear that BTTB are ahead of the game in terms of having a programme, speakers, sponsors and so on already tied down whereas CIPSA is very much work in progress.

All very interesting – and no doubt certain people in CIPS and Redactive must be watching this with interest this side of the world. Redactive have got themselves into a very powerful position in the UK (or rather CIPS has allowed them to get into a powerful position), with responsibility for the Supply Management magazine, annual dinner, conferences, awards event, and so on. So what is happening in Australia might make CIPS think very hard about who holds the power in that particular supply chain relationship!

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