Down The Procurement Pub with Atkins, NHS Locums, Amazon and Portugal. The Man

One of the benefits of going up to Durham every month to see my Mother now is that I get to shop at Aldi. Their beer is very good value – the brands are low-priced, but their “own brand” cask ale type products (brewed by firms like Marstons) are excellent. The 500ml bottles are £1.25 and the 330 ml more “interesting” brews are 99p. These are my favourites – a Ruby Red  and the American style IPA . The German lager at 99p for 500 ml isn’t bad either.


Programme and asset management firm WS Atkins, who are a major supplier to the public sector (and large private firms), are the subject of a friendly takeover bid from Canadian project management firm SNC Lavalin. This is another case of a successful UK firm being snapped up by foreign business (see ARM, Cadburys etc). Although we do believe in global free trade, this makes us a little sad. It also reduces the number of firms in the world who can take on large infrastructure projects, which is arguably not good news for governments. Recent events in the UK rail industry with the  potential for conflict of interest in the UK’s HS2 programme are a sign that there are very few suppliers already who can do this sort of work on major programmes. Consolidation is not good news for buyers really.

And as Sky News says; “Canada has been very aggressive, in recent years, in preventing foreign buyers acquiring some of its big companies. It would be interesting to know how the Canadian government would respond were the boot to be on the other foot and Atkins were bidding for SNC”.


The new IR35 rules in the public sector which mean that the organisation will have to deduct tax at source from fees paid to many contractors is causing various issues.  The Health Service Journal reports that the regulations, which took effect yesterday, "force 'off-payroll' workers to pay the same level of tax as substantive employees, by making employers responsible for paying their tax and national insurance”.  The result is that some locum doctors and other contractors have threatened to stop working if they don’t get a big pay rise - which the NHS can’t really afford.  Some Accident and Emergency Departments are “hours form closing” apparently.  We’ll be back with more on IR 35 next week.


We will have more on the Amazon Business launch next week, and I got to visit their office in London yesterday to interview a couple of senior guys in their team. Having been to the Google office a year ago in London – free cinema style pic ‘n mix sweet shops, amazing food in free cafeteria, baristas, video games, fussball tables - I was excited about going to Amazon. Well … it’s an office. Perfectly pleasant, open plan, lots of people sitting working at laptops. Could have been pretty much any firm. I’m not criticising Amazon; it is just interesting to note that not all the “new digital economy” giant firms have the same culture!


Thanks to the Spotify service that suggests songs you might like based on your Spotify tastes, which pointed me towards this track from an Alaskan band I’d never heard of – “Portugal. The Man” they’re called. Yes, I know .. but “Feel It Still” is just a great, irresistible pop song which should be a huge summer hit (but probably won’t be).


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Voices (4)

  1. Dan:

    A family member knows the beer buyer for Aldi. Look out for the Independence IPA that should be in stores in the future, its sublime in my humble opinion.

  2. Dave:

    Bengal Lancer IPA – got a few cold ones waiting for me.

  3. Dave:

    Bengal Lancer IPA absolutely marvellous – got some cold ones waiting for me !

  4. Sam Unkim:

    Try the “Hopping Hare” next time you are in Aldi.

    Nice light, slightly citrus, dining beer.

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