Down the Procurement Pub with Cloudbuy, women’s rugby, dodgy charities and Vampire Weekend

Down the procurement golf club this week, with my first round for about 8 years. Should I take it up again? I don’t know. It just takes so long! I’ve hardy played since I set up my own business, so much for the idea that working for yourself gives you time for these things. Predictably, my round was a mix of the odd surprisingly good shot with quite a few embarrassing 50 yard “drives” sideways into the long grass. But it turned into a beautiful evening and my mystery procurement golfing partner took this shot of me and a pint of Amstel (I needed something cold) outside the Merrist Wood clubhouse near Guildford after the round (a lovely course, by the way).


Winning public sector contracts is pretty tough these days, because procurement processes are robust. OK, so they are sometimes somewhat bureaucratic, I admit, but generally it is quite hard to get money out of the public sector via a procurement route if you are totally incompetent, criminal or crazy. It is less clear that the same applies to getting “charitable grants” if the case of the Big Society Network is anything to go by. The charity has been wound up after misusing £2.5 million in lottery and government grants (all taxpayers money, in effect), according to the Independent. No doubt we will find out more, but a simple suggestion – how about applying procurement disciplines to everything that involves organisations getting public money.


We don't cover sport here much usually but many congratulations to the England Woman’s Rugby Team on winning the World Cup. What a performance and what an excellent game the Final was. Amazing too that the team are amateurs with virtually no individual sponsorship or income from the sport. Well done O2 for sponsoring the team, but surely there must be some marketing services buyers and brand managers looking at these woman and thinking, "there's a great platform for promoting our product to strong, independent woman". Or indeed to strong independent men, who like watching strong independent women playing rugby in a way that was more exciting and just as skilful than the vast majority of professional men's games. Not as many 250 kilo head-on collisions, but all the better for that.


Cloudbuy (e-marketplaces, analytics, etc.) announced their half year results yesterday. Revenues were up 7% to £1,467,000 compared to last year and billings even better - 50% up year on year. There are lots of promising things on the horizon, according to the firm, from their first Indian contract win to social care marketplaces. On the other hand, the first half bottom line loss was £1.6 million (compared to £300K last year) and they burnt through £1.8M cash, as they invested heavily in sales and development staff. So it is a bit of a race against time for the firm to translate the undoubted opportunities and new business through into the P&L, to justify the level of overheads they’ve taken on. We may come back to this ...


As you read this, I will be at Reading Festival. Here's the band I'm most excited about today, the amazing Vampire Weekend...

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Voices (2)

  1. Ronald Duncan:

    Hi Peter,
    You missed the Australian Contract Win with a potential value of £ 4.5 million 1.5x last years turnover, so we have escaped from the procurement trap of only being bid up to 25% of our turnover.

    It was after the period end, but a great start to the 2nd half.

    The other point is that the £ 1.8m cash is offset by our debtors being up to £ 1.9m increased from 400k last year with a lot of wins coming in at the end of the period so that whilst billed we have not yet collected, and this puts us in a strong position for the 2nd half when we will collect the cash and recognise the revenue.

    All the best
    Ronald Duncan

    1. Peter Smith:

      All fair comment. I will be delighted if the second half shows you finally delivering on your undoubted promise, but we’ve had a few false dawns before, so forgive the note of caution! Let’s chat anyway – very interested in what you’re doing with NHS SBS as well around social care, could be exciting.

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