Down the Procurement Pub with Proxima, UNISON, eWorld, the LPP and Blur

This week’s picture shows me having a beer. I know that is not a desperately unusual picture, let’s be honest, but it is the best I could do this week. The photographer was a well known ex CPO and musician, who is having a very good time being “retired.” We were plotting some potential song writing collaboration, in fact, as well as a chat about procurement matters. Yes, you’ve heard of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bacharach and David, Lennon and McCartney ... what are the chances of Smith and Smith joining that pantheon of greats? No, you’re right.

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Are you all celebrating out there? Everyone in public sector procurement anyway? Because today is the first full day of the new UK public procurement rules! I can see that you can hardly contain yourselves, and I just know that the pubs of Whitehall will be full of wildly celebrating procurement folk this lunchtime. UNISON (the public sector trade union) aren’t very happy about it though...

And late news - the figures for 2013/14 government spend with SMEs have finally been published!  The direct spend has gone down year on year but the made up figures for indirect spend in the supply chain mean the total is over the 25% aspiration. Much more on that next week.

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Proxima put out a press release announcing a stellar start to 2015. “In the last three months, Proxima has earned new or additional business from a global retailer, a North American-based food product manufacturer, an iconic retail banking brand, a pan-European supermarket chain and a UK-based financial service provider.”

Shame no names there, but good to see there is life in the procurement outsourcing world, which had gone a bit quiet of late. And I wonder if Accenture’s acquisition of Procurian 15 months ago has actually done firms such as Proxima (and perhaps Xchanging) a favour? I think we said at the time, there were only a small number of firms that could handle big outsourcing requirements, and with one fewer to choose from, there was going to be a correspondingly greater chance of Proxima for instance getting onto the short-list. Maybe that is coning to pass.

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So as well as eWorld Procurement and Supply at the QEII Centre, Westminster next Tuesday (I will be there but not speaking), I am presenting next week at the NHS London Procurement Partnership Member Conference. It is for members of that collaborative procurement venture rather than an open to the public event, but should be interesting, not least because Lord Carter is on the agenda. He didn’t make it to the HCSA conference last November, to everyone’s disappointment, so we’re very interested to hear what he has to say, some 6 months or so into his “Procurement Czar” role in health.

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Look out for a two-part Album Review over the weekend – so many good new releases to cover. But the big news this week was a new album on the way from Blur. Many bands that have been around a long time seem to be just re-tracing old favourites, but this first track sounds fresh and current. We thought they might headline Reading Festival but unfortunately we're getting the flamin' Libertines, as the final headliner to be announced, the most over-rated band in the history of the world. Rats.

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