Welcome to Trade Extensions, Sourcing Stars!

We are delighted to welcome (back) Trade Extensions as a Lead Sponsor for Spend Matters UK/Europe though 2015.

There’s a bit of a back-story here too.  Not long after we started Spend Matters UK/Europe, I got a phone call one evening.

“Hello, mate”. A voice said. “It’s Garry Mansell here”.

“Hello Garry”, I replied, recognising his distinctive voice instantly.  Then my brain kicked into overdrive. Yes, I recognised the voice. Yes, I knew the name. But hang on, this wasn’t someone I spoke to every week, month or even year. As the neurons connected, I realised that although I knew Garry from my days at Mars, I had not seen him or spoken to him for almost 20 years!

We worked together when he was in R&D and I was a purchasing manager.  He also opened the batting for the Mars cricket team, which I captained, not through any particular talent I should stress  but because I was the only mug who would make the effort to book a council pitch, find the kit, get eleven reasonably competent (actually that didn’t always apply) people to turn out, buy the first round of beer afterwards ... etc. Garry was a proper player, had his own kit and everything.

After I left the firm, he moved to Masterfoods at Kings Lyne, where he led the logistics function and looked at how Mars might set up a new business in that sector – Freight Traders. That didn’t continue within Mars, but through that activity, he met three brilliant Swedish mathematicians (also leading computer scientists) who had started a software company in 2000, using optimisation algorithms to help solve very complex sourcing problems (of which logistics was a key example).

With the blessing of Mars, Mansell left, Freight Traders merged with Trade Extensions, and the company as we know it today was born.  Mansell became CEO with Arne Andersson (the Swedish Maths professor) as Chairman.

Now as well as being an interesting story from a personal perspective, it tells you something about the business today. It still combines very successfully two different cultures and approaches.  The “Mathmo” (as young students call it today, according to my daughter) core of the firm in Uppsala (see picture), developing algorithms to address the biggest and most complex sourcing challenges in the world, along with the business and commercial acumen that Mars is famous for. Together, they have led to a very impressive growth story for the firm, with revenues almost doubling in the last two years for instance.

The nature of the challenges that the software addresses also means that clients tend to be large or very large firms. Indeed, the Trade Extensions client list is just amazing – a roll-call of the largest firms in the world in industries such as retail, consumer goods, energy and pharma. Not all of them are willing to be named publicly or allow case studies, more’s the pity, but that in itself suggests that they believe using the Trade Extensions TESS platform gives them real competitive advantage.

Anyway, we look forward to working with the firm, and more to follow of course through the year.  And if you’re not totally past the Christmas season, you can still download our case study of how their software was used to solve a very seasonal emergency...

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