Hello, hello, I’m back again… Spend Matters back in the UK

I spent last week skiing in the Italian Dolomites. That wasn't evident from Spend Matters, partly because of my writing stuff in advance to show dedication to you, esteemed readers and contributors, but also because my wife – not unreasonably – feels that if I tell everyone online and on Twitter that we're away, a huge number of burglars who are also procurement fans will descend on our poor unprotected house.

Anyway, we went to Corvara, in the Italian Dolomites, the resort where I first learnt to ski 30 years ago. I've never been a great fan of sun, beaches and summer holidays generally, and luckily my wife agrees, so skiing has been our main holiday for many years. But of course I'm also looking out for supply chain lessons and issues even on my week off...

And there's an interesting story that we'll feature tomorrow, a tale of supply chain and logistics management, with customer service and working capital implications... But for today, a couple of other observations.

The first was the dominance of Germans (mainly our age or even older) in the resort. Maybe not that surprising, but the Russians clearly haven't discovered the Dolomites in the way they have Les Trois Vallees and Zermatt for instance. But really not many English / American voices, or much else. Maybe it was just seeing all the news about Cyprus whilst we were away, but it did feel like the Germans are the nation who can afford nice holidays at the moment in Europe!

I was also lectured in a bubble lift by a chatty German, somewhat older than me.  “If I was in France or Greece I would have retired 10 years ago. They do not work hard enough. And your problem, in England, is you do not make anything. You have just the banks and that is not good. You must make something”.

A lot of truth in that, I fear..

On a more directly supply chain note, the food supply chain is always of interest given my early years in procurement at Mars Confectionery. Thinking back 100 years, the inhabitants of the Dolomites would have had a very restricted diet in winter, I imagine. Meat could have been frozen I guess (or freshly slaughtered), and pork would be the staple. Some grains and pulses, a few root vegetables, and lots of pickled, bottled, or dried fruit and vegetables?

But now, it is strawberries and kiwi fruit in the breakfast buffet, shellfish on the dinner menu. So (perhaps disappointingly) there was little consideration to food miles and sustainability - what is the cost and environmental impact of shipping this stuff? Getting them half way up a mountain in Italy is maybe not the most sustainable thing we might imagine.

Yet meat was almost purely pork and beef. No chicken, lamb, duck all week … So are there some foods where the historical consumption patterns still have some influence over current day preferences, whilst modern food supply chains have brought other products into year round use?

But there are all sorts of objections to skiing on sustainability grounds, so maybe I'll quit while I'm ahead here...

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First Voice

  1. Dave Orr:

    Peter – Welcome back. Nothing much going on here….a budget for beer and a few probs in Cyprus – otherwise awful weather is main topic of conversation.

    Typical stereotype from the German chap re we don’t make anything in the UK……ask Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW-owned Mini then!

    Not to mention key suppliers like GKN (I have shares in my modest ISA portfolio).

    How about some Spend Matters share tips?

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