Down the Procurement Pub with NHS SBS, Reading, Cloudbuy and Bad Sounds

I had lunch this week with my friend Guy Allen, forgot to take any pics again -  but here’s one that I think was from our cycling day together last September. I’m now foolishly planning to accompany him on a 2-day ride in October as part of his “round-Britain in sections” tour. Anyway, this week I was trying to convert him to the merits of top-class Indian cuisine, so we went to Gymkhana – which Giles Coren reckons is pretty much the best restaurant in London, full stop. But I’m sorry to say Guy is still not totally convinced. “Not bad” was about as far as he would go. The set lunch is very good value too given the quality of the Michelin-starred food - £25 for 2 courses and you will struggle to find room for a dessert, I guarantee.

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A new national framework for “back office services” – including procurement - has been established by NHS South of England Procurement Services (SoEPS), hosted by Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. It runs until the end of January 2021 and enables the entire NHS to “benefit from a streamlined service delivery approach” and helps organisations “move to greater use of shared and outsourced arrangements as a means to reduce spending”.

It covers Financial Services,  Procurement Services, Payroll Services, Employment Services and Business Intelligence / Data Warehousing Services.  NHS Shared Business Services did particularly well, wining a place on all four Lots and being the highest ranked supplier of Financial and Procurement services. More information about the Back Office Functions Framework is available online.

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As this is published, we will be at Reading Festival – probably queuing for a wristband at the precise moment of publication. The Festival is an interesting example of how businesses have to evolve quickly today. What Reading has learnt is that it has to reflect the taste of its core demographic market – youngsters between the ages of 16-25, with the post-GCSE and post A-levels kids the two real peak markets! (Both Guy Allen’s youngest son and our editor Nancy Clinton’s second daughter are there, hopefully celebrating excellent GCSEs ...).

So it's no good saying “we’re a rock festival” and losing your market as the kids’ tastes change – Reading now embraces grime, hip-hop, dance, etc, as well as still having a strong indie and rock programme. Respect your traditions, but adapt fast;  not a bad motto for any business that has been around a while.

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Cloudbuy, once something of a force in spend analytics, is now barely worth mentioning, unfortunately. Their half-year results showed revenues down to just £650K and a loss of £790K. It’s a miracle the firm is still going but investor Roberto Sella has (for reasons not clear to us) put money in to keep it afloat. They are pinning their hopes on PHBChoices, a marketplace for care services, but Alexa, the website-ranking site, says “We don't have enough data to rank this website”, when you ask it about PHBChoices, which probably says it all.

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So here is one of the bands we haven’t seen before that we’re looking forward to today – Bad Sounds, youngsters from Bath who combine a retro blue-eyed soul groove with a more modern indie sound – touches of Beck and Prince in their as well. Their debut album is just out and based on this, we better give it a listen.

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