Supply Management on Brexit and MAG – Recommended Reading

There are two – or at least two – articles worth reading in this month’s Supply Management magazine.

The first is a lengthy analysis of Brexit and what it means for procurement professionals. It covers a range of aspects from public sector implications to  customs and trade issues.

It has some interesting and useful material, even if it still has an undercurrent of “Remainer”, which has been evident in pretty much everything we’ve seen in Supply Management (and from CIPS) since the referendum.

So the article has tales of woe from farmers who can’t get cheap labour to pick their fruit. “We don’t want to get to a stage where people are going out of business and there are huge amounts of fruit and veg rotting, and that’s where we are headed.”

However, a more inquiring journalist or balanced view might ask why they don’t just up the pay to their staff a little more, at which point you might get a few more local willing workers. There is little doubt that cheap labour (from eastern Europe in the main) has been a factor behind the UK becoming a high-employment, low-wage country in recent years. Now there certainly are challenges in changing that, but this isn’t a simple issue.

Similarly, the public sector procurement discussion starts by saying “The good news here is that it is highly likely there will be no change for some time, says Sue Arrowsmith”.  Now she is right of course, but some people may well think this is bad news! Personally, I’m not one of those, but it might have been good to reflect that many people would hope that we could change the EU procurement rules sooner rather than later. Again, that bias in favour of “remain” and the view that the EU is great seems to come into play.

Having made our criticism of the overall flavour here, the article is well worth reading, with useful sections on preparing for Brexit, currency volatility and more. It is good to see such a substantial piece of analysis from Supply Management too, something we don’t get much of in these days of sound-bites and Twitter messages.

And the second recommended article covers Manchester Airport Group and their CPO George Owens. We ran an extensive interview with Owens some months back (you can read it here, here, and here), but the Supply Management article has the additional strength of involving Charlie Cornish, the CEO.

It is interesting to get his perspective as well as the procurement angle, and his comments emphasise the importance of getting buy-in from the very top and thinking strategically if you really want to drive transformation. For instance, as the article says:

Cornish believes there are three main things procurement and supply professionals must do to add value to their businesses: “Work hard to understand the business, think long term, and work hard at building relationships. The way procurement can have a real impact on the business is understanding the 10-year plan and building a category strategy around it.”

Cornish also has some comments around Brexit – “we need to continue to innovate within our supply chain, and look at different kinds of risks and opportunities. Supply chain becomes even more important to the business from a strategic perspective as our economic climate changes around us. The other consideration is how we can get leverage across a much bigger geography; that will be the next opportunity for supply chain to add some value.”

It's all well worth reading, and good pictures too (when we met Owens ours were mainly taken in the pub, not nearly as professional …)

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