Down the Procurement Pub with the NHS, Living Wills, Taylor Swift and Blood Red Shoes

Quite a few pictures I can use this week, but this one shows our old friend Alex Kleiner, in the very pleasant Bull & Gate pub in Kentish Town – we were off to see Welshly Arms play at the Dome, Tufnell Park up the road.

That’s a strange (but good) venue – a narrow flight of stairs leading up to a room above a pretty scruffy pub, so you expect a tiny space, but suddenly you are in a high ceilinged 600-capacity hall. Anyway, Kleiner played a big part in Coupa’s growth in Europe, went briefly to Apttus (leaving quickly and not perhaps surprisingly given what has come out about the firm since) and has been focusing his attention on a house move, family and other pleasant matters. But we suspect he will be back in the software business somewhere soon.


Breaking news!  Our last webinar of 2018 - and my last while I'm running Spend Matters UK/Europe - will be on December 13th at 2pm UK time, 3pm CET.  It's with our friends from risk management solution provider riskmethods, and we'll be looking at key issues to help you prepare your supply chain risk plans for 2019. It's titled "Understand the Risk Big Picture- it doesn't stop at Supplier Risk"  - we'll tell you more on Monday but you can register here.


Another week, another supplier taking the NHS to court over a procurement issue. The Whittington Trust is accused of pulling out of a contract with facilities firm Ryhurst for a “strategic estates partnership” after “pressure from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn” relating to the Grenfell Tower fire. The firm had been made preferred bidder in a tendering process but then parent company the Rydon Group was identified as the lead contractor overseeing the refurbishment of the tower between 2014 and 2016. Some months later, the Trust pulled out of the procurement, because (they say) of a change in strategy driven by an improved financial situation.   The supplier claims it was all down to Grenfell and that pressure. Now most tender documents explicitly state that the buyer can pull out of the procurement at any time, for any reason, so we don’t rate Ryhurst’s chances very highly here, but we’ll see.  (Here’s an earlier report on the matter from HSJ).


A very good article here from Music Week explaining why Taylor Swift’s new deal with Universal Music is ground breaking in contractual terms, and why she is a bit of a hero in terms of the precedents she is setting. The world of digital, music streaming and so on is creating a need for new ways of looking at contracts and fees – something that is of course true in many of our “conventional” areas of procurement as well – and Swift is helping to create new contractual models. “Just think about that for a second. The world’s biggest pop star – who could have used all her considerable leverage to get herself more money, or more favourable terms, or probably the moon on a ruddy stick if she wanted it – instead using it to improve the lot of the entire artist community”. 


David Lidington, the Cabinet Office Minster with overall responsibility for procurement and commercial matters in the UK government, gave a speech this week to the Business Services Association that got a bit lost in the Brexit fog, unfortunately. He talked about the move to focus more on social value in the contracting process, and the “living wills” that major suppliers to government like Serco and Capita are now making, explaining what will happen to their contracts if they go under. “By ensuring contingency plans can be put in place in the very rare event of supplier failure, we will be better prepared to maintain continuity of critical public services,” Lidington said. It’s an interesting concept that we should discuss at greater length really.


To be honest, I’d forgotten about unfeasibly attractive rock/punk boy/girl duo Blood Red Shoes despite the fact that we really liked them and saw them several times around 2010, and I believe we have at least one of their 4 previous CDs. But they fell out after album 4, broke up for a couple of years, before getting back again recently to release some new music. A bit less raw and more keyboard based than before, but if this is anything to go by, their new sound is very good.

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