Down the Procurement Pub with Jaggaer, Harleys, CO2, Munich and Hookworms

We had a good dinner with Jaggaer in Munich at their customer conference – very decent food. But it was not the party that previous BravoSolution events tended to turn into! I was off to bed at 11pm and plenty of people beat me to that, although there were rumours that one group had cut and run to a nearby micro-brewery. But the DJ cut a slightly forlorn figure as there was certainly no hint of dancing in the hotel. However, it was good to catch up with old friends like Soraya Sackey from Tejari in Dubai, make new ones like Friedrich Kern from Prospeum, an interesting Munich start-up (more on that to come) - and you might just spot Magnus Bergfors from Gartner in the picture too.

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The potential for a major global trade war increased as the EU retaliated against President Trump’s initial tariff moves on steel. That saw Harley-Davidson caught up in the furore. Trump announced that the firm “should only manufacture in the US”. While we have sympathy with some of his aims – stopping China stealing everyone’s IP and tech innovation for instance – you do wonder whether he has any even basic understanding of economic theory, or knowledge of economic and business history. Despite his rhetoric, it is clear that trade wars are not “easy to win”, as he will find.

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Talking of business disasters, what started out sounding like a summer “slow news” story is turning into something more serious. In the UK, wholesaler Booker is rationing beer and cider because of a shortage of Carbon Dioxide, used in carbonated drinks. The Tesco-owned firm, which supplies bars, restaurants and traders, is only allowing customers 10 cases of beer, and five of cider or soft drinks. It is more evidence that a scarcity of CO2 is hurting the food and drink sectors, and comes after Heineken and Coca-Cola faced disruption. Scotland's biggest abattoir has halted operations because of the gas shortage too – all this despite the fact that we all thought we were producing too much of the stuff! But this has all happened because of shutdowns at a number of big mainland European fertiliser plants for routine maintenance – CO2 is a by-product of that process.

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I walked the mile and a half each way between the train station and our Munich hotel venue for the Jaggaer event – anything to avoid a £50 taxi fare – through a very pleasant suburban area. The houses were mainly small modern terraces, but the huge difference compared to UK cities was that the small front gardens were all thick with plants, flowers, shrubs, even small ponds.

None had been converted into parking spaces, which is endemic in similar UK situations. It just makes the environment so much more attractive, although I should say the streets were wide enough to allow on-street parking. Lots of bicycles too, and the discipline of cyclists and indeed pedestrians at traffic lights is very … Germanic. You just don’t walk across at red in Munich, even if there is no car between you and Frankfurt. But all in all, I felt, as I have before, that Munich is a place I could live in very happily if I spoke better German. Only an hour or so to skiing territory as well …

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We are half way through the year now, and there are three front-runners at the moment for the coveted Spend Matters 2018 Album of the Year Award. We always invite the winner to the grand prize giving at the Camberley Tandoori, but you know, Vampire Weekend, Christine and the Queens, Hurray for the Riff Raff and others have so far failed to turn up. Now if Hookworms win, they just might, being by all accounts a pretty down to earth bunch from Leeds. But their album Microshift is one of the three and is a really tremendous electronic rock album, with hypnotic rhythms combined with great atmosphere and tunes.  We won’t expose the two other current contenders – although look back at our reviews and you can probably guess – but there are more promising releases to come soon, so who knows where we will be by mid-December. In the meantime though, here is Hookworms.

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