Category Archive

Below you'll find a list of all posts that have been categorized as “4C Blog”

Horse meat scandal – what’s changed?

Horse meat scandal – what’s changed?

Philip Joss 4C Blog

When horse DNA was first found in beef products being sold in Britain, many felt we had reached a high water mark. There was a general feeling that food supply practices had become unsustainable and lacked transparency. Major retailers withdrew ten million burgers from their stores within the first few months of the news leaking. Two elements are widely believed …

Why procurement has to stop only talking about ‘savings’ and focus on strategic value

Why procurement has to stop only talking about ‘savings’ and focus on strategic value

Jeremy Smith 4C Blog

A look at why the procurement  function needs to move beyond pure cost cutting and better publicise the leadership and revenue growth opportunities it can bring to the boardroom. It’s no secret that procurement was one of the few functions to emerge triumphant from the financial crisis. Leading businesses faced with increasingly uncertain forecasts found themselves reliant on optimising cost …

The future of marketing procurement

The future of marketing procurement

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog

Marketing is one of many functions which was put under growing pressure following the economic crisis. As a result, many businesses have seen increased collaboration between procurement and marketing. The latter needing an ally in the quest to maximise value and the former enjoying a more strategic role within the business. But what’s next? How can a forward looking business …

Changing the perception of facilities management

Changing the perception of facilities management

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog

I’ve written before about the challenges of getting more young people involved in strategic procurement and many of points I made apply to facilities management. The main issue I highlighted is the continued perception of procurement as a cost saver and not a strategic business partner and problem solver. Part of the problem is due to the way in which …

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Brexit and procurement – poll results

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog, Insights

With the impending Brexit vote fast approaching I thought it useful to share some insights into what procurement people are thinking and how it might affect both them personally as well as their role in procurement. 4C on a rolling basis runs a global month procurement poll covering a range of indices and special topics each month. Over the past …

Driving value in in Private Equity though portfolio procurement (1)

Driving value in Private Equity though portfolio procurement

Jeremy Smith 4C Blog

With Private Equity  firms increasingly under pressure to improve operational efficiencies within their assets as a means to drive value, Jeremy Smith considers procurement’s role. All mid-market Private Equity companies recognise the value procurement can bring in terms of sustainable EBITDA improvement, however, the portfolio companies they invest in often lack leverage given their scale in any given market. This …

Is this the death of marketing procurement-

Is this the death of marketing procurement?

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog

This was the topic of this week’s webinar hosted as a debate between 4C and Spend Matters. The contention from Spend Matters’ Managing Editor Peter Smith was that following the demise of marketing procurement within PepsiCo all marketing procurement might be doomed. Peter, as we all know is a persuasive speaker who really knows his procurement, and he contends that …

Contingent Labour

Contingent labour – Delivering a higher-quality workforce through structured procurement

admin 4C Blog

The number of self-employed people in Britain hit record highs in the past years and is expected to continue rising. Recent estimates suggest 30% of the workforce will be self-employed by 2030. These developments pose new and exciting challenges for procurement and HR and highlight the importance of designing effective long-term strategies to manage this workforce. With businesses competing within a …

Why Marketing Procurement Still Has a Place

Why marketing procurement still has a place

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog

Towards the end of last year, PepsiCo sent shockwaves through the business world when it announced the dissolution of its marketing procurement department. Responsibility for agency spend and other fees now sit with the business’ individual brands. Many in the marketing industry have welcomed the change. Some see it as a means to bring in creative agencies and new ways …

Private equity and unlocking third party spend

How can private equity portfolio companies unlock value in indirect third party spend

Mike Lander 4C Blog

It is a common practice amongst Private Equity(PE) owned companies to tap into an Aggregator purchasing organisation that could leverage the bulk buying power of the entire portfolio owned by the PE owner. In the cases where portfolio companies are small to medium in size, it is often the case that they do not have indirect procurement departments. As the …

Lean and marketing procurement

Lean and marketing procurement

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog

When were looking at marketing procurement spend, too often people (clients) want to focus on very broad issues that they have and want to solve. Sometimes this takes the form of “how can I buy this for less” other times it can be a much broader set of issues such as “why cant my agency hit the brief first time …

Global Procurement Index survey

Global Procurement Index Survey

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog

Hello Procurement, how’s it going? I know that its tough out there and that your stakeholders always demand more, but how are you really doing? Is it going well for you and are you enjoying life? Come on you can tell me the truth! We know it`s difficult, and that having more information around what your peers are doing will …

Supply chain financing

The evolution of supply chain finance

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog

Back in October 2012, the Prime Minister unveiled a new scheme aimed at helping smaller businesses secure affordable finance. The initiative received a wide range of support and leading companies, including Diageo, Kingfisher, Tesco and IBM all signed up. The popularity of the scheme and the fact it was driven by both public and private sector organisations, indicates the potential …

How to incentivise suppliers

How to incentivise suppliers

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog

In an economic climate where many businesses need to do more with less, procurement functions are increasingly looking to uncover new ways to incentivise their suppliers. Incentivising suppliers to deliver improved performances is not a new concept in the world of procurement. However, with an increasing number of businesses facing tighter margins, it is an area which certainly merits investigating. The …

Attracting best talent to procurement

Attracting the best talent to procurement

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog

Procurement is finally starting to get some of the recognition it deserves, but we need the right talent to make sure it keeps evolving. The challenging economic climate that we have experienced for the past few years has seen procurement make the step up from being a cost saver to a strategic partner. Whereas the function was once viewed as a …

Facilities management TFM

Is TFM in the ‘Just too hard’ box?

Chris Herbert 4C Blog

Most organisations live in an increasingly competitive market and strive to at least maintain their cost base and focus on key areas that provide competitive advantage. While facilities expenditure has long been deemed non-strategic by most companies, the approach has been to maintain the status quo and address only those areas that present disruption to the smooth operation of the …

Death of the generalist- Is this true for marketing procurement-

Death of the generalist? Is this true for marketing procurement?

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog

As PepsiCo announces the dissolution of its global marketing procurement department, 4C Associates’ Milan Panchmatia & Emanuel Modrovic examine the rise of the specialist In many sectors, a traditional career path will see someone work their way up through the ranks, over a period of time. As they continue this upwards trajectory, the expectation on them will be to take …


Procurement’s strategic role in private equity investment value creation

Mike Lander 4C Blog

The era is long gone when Private Equity was heavily reliant on financial engineering to generate the necessary returns from their portfolio investments. Over the last decade, financial market dynamics have meant that PE firms need to focus increasingly on improving the operational efficiencies of the underlying assets to generate the required returns. This in turn has seen an increasingly …

Effective Contract Management or compliance nightmare-

Effective contract management or compliance nightmare?

Andrew Davidson 4C Blog

I was recently reminded of the importance of running an effective contract management system when I was invited to do a contracts audit. This should have been straight forward, the company had an established governance standard defining what should and what should not be present and a team of capable procurement professionals The findings of the audit were eye opening. …

Enhancing EBITDA in Private Equity backed Professional and Recruitment Services

Enhancing EBITDA in private equity backed professional and recruitment services

Mike Lander 4C Blog

It would be easy to argue that Procurement activity to deliver EBITDA improvement is the same in any sector so why focus on Professional/Recruitment Services businesses? The reality is, a critical understanding of sector dynamics, company culture and 3rd party cost/sales ratios all play an important part in how savings are prioritised and delivered. For example, the key challenges facing …

Spend Analysis Moving to Real Analytics

Spend analysis moving to real analytics

Mark Ellis 4C Blog

A lot has been written about spend analysis – analytics, cognitive procurement, big data and how to manage structured and unstructured data within your organisation. What we see in practice is a lot of companies working on three tiers of capability: Some companies still manage their spend analytics through the ERP-based data-warehouse, where static reports are generated and run at a …

NHS Procurement – Staffing Agency Partnerships, Not “Rip-Offs”

NHS Procurement – Staffing agency partnerships, not “rip-offs”

Mike Lander 4C Blog

There has been plenty of media coverage recently about the need for a “clamp down on some of the staffing agencies ripping off the NHS.” As a procurement professional who has worked as both a Non-Executive Director (NED) and business consultant in the NHS, it saddens me to believe that an essential part of the workforce supply chain (nursing and …

The End of Supermarket Price Wars-

The end of supermarket price wars?

Jeremy Smith 4C Blog

Supermarkets waging price wars is nothing new, however, the sustainability of the practice has long been called into question. The past two years, and the previous Tesco-dominated era, have been all about slashing costs and delivering the cheapest products possible. While this has proved advantageous for cash-strapped customers, and the growth of the likes of Aldi and Lidl, it has …

‘Keeping Up with the Joneses’ – Cutting-Edge Procurement

‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ – Cutting-edge procurement

Jeremy Smith 4C Blog

At a first glance, procurement and innovation come across as unlikely bedfellows. Whereas one is historically focused on delivering short-term savings, the other is more outward-looking and engaged in delivering less tangible results – at least in the short term. This outdated view of procurement’s relationship with innovation continues to persist in a number of companies despite numerous developments. An unstable …

Selecting the Right Outsourcing Provider

Selecting the right outsourcing provider

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog

Deciding to bring on a third-party provider can have multiple benefits. Chief amongst these is access to a cost-effective resource to cutting costs and delivering value. In an environment characterised by economic uncertainty the attraction is clear. However, not all providers offer the same service and it’s essential to select one which can mirror your expectations. Read full article on …


4C ProcureCon Indirect Survey 2015

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog

4C Associates are sponsoring ProcureCon Indirect in Amsterdam on 21-23rd April at the NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, Amsterdam. We would like to invite you to participate in a 1 minute benchmarking survey entitled Delivering Value to Business Partners.  If you are attending ProcureCon Indirect in Amsterdam next week we will be running this as a live voting session for the attendees onsite. To …


Does SRM bring a step change to procurement?

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog

Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) and innovation are two words frequently used in the same sentence. SRM has long been touted as the next step for many procurement departments looking to bring about a step change. The reason for this is simple. In many industries, suppliers are coming under increasing cost pressure and are simply unable to reduce costs alone. By …

Reshoring – Is It Really Happening and What Are the Benefits?

Reshoring – Is it really happening and what are the benefits?

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog

Reshoring or onshoring, is becoming increasingly popular in a number of sectors in the UK. The term refers to the practice of bringing back, or reshoring, functions previously outsourced overseas. There are a number of reasons why reshoring is a growing trend, namely a reduction in the wage gap between developed and developing economies, but also a desire to have …

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The art of negotiation

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog Leave a Comment

Despite the growing number of procurement functions embracing tactics such as SRM, traditional supplier negotiations still have an important role to play. Anyone not working in procurement would be forgiven for thinking the majority of work carried out is based on SRM and innovative collaborations. It is rare to read an article or attend a conference without hearing about procurement’s …

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Building procurement’s profile during M&As

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog Leave a Comment

Early involvement, savings delivery and knowing when to call on external expertise – a quick guide to building procurement’s profile during M&A activity. M&A activity has been increasing across the globe since 2008. According to financial software company Dealogic, global deal values hit the $1.75 trillion mark halfway through this year. Recent M&A activity includes General Electric’s $17 billion purchase …


The secret to successful e-auctions

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog 1 Comment

How can procurement make sure it’s getting the most out of the e-auction process? Historically, e-auctions were designed to ensure the best prices for commonly used low cost goods such as stationary or component parts. However, the practice has since evolved into an important asset in procurement’s toolset and can provide exceptional value when applied in the correct circumstances. A …


Marketing and procurement – making the relationship work

A challenging economic climate has seen many marketing departments put under increased pressure to optimise spend and reporting. Marketers across the globe have found themselves with little option, but to turn to procurement for support. In many companies this “mandatory” collaboration has led to a blossoming relationship. I do not doubt that many marketers were sceptical when they first began …

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Turning more CPOs into CEOs

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog Leave a Comment

As procurement takes on a more strategic role, we examine what’s next for the function and how CPOs can make the move to CEO. A bleak economic landscape combined with a global financial crisis saw procurement take on a key role in many businesses’ growth strategies. With traditional growth patterns being undermined across many industries, CEOs turned to procurement to …


Investing in green supply chains

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog Leave a Comment

More and more leading businesses are investing in initiatives aimed at creating more sustainable supply chains. Whereas one might assume the practice would negatively impact revenue, the reality is that many companies have used these developments to drive significant cost and process benefits. Re-designing supply chains to cut carbon emissions and generally creating more sustainable practices have already helped companies …


The new procurement – what skillset is needed to be successful now?

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog Leave a Comment

Procurement is playing an increasingly important role in many businesses and the skillset of those working in the function needs to evolve to reflect this. Procurement’s increased involvement in wider business strategy has altered the skillset needed by those working in the function. Generally speaking this has manifested itself in a focus on skills related to relationship management and strategic …


Encouraging supplier innovation

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog Leave a Comment

In a world dominated by increasingly tight margins and cost pressure, companies are struggling to deliver savings via some of the more traditional methods. Whereas in the past businesses could demand that their suppliers cut costs by a certain percentage on a yearly basis, in many mature sectors this is no longer a sustainable option. In this context, a number …

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What can public and private procurement functions teach each other?

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog Leave a Comment

Many of those working in procurement think that public and private purchasing functions operate in different universes. They equate working in the public sector with red-tape and rule books and the private sector with freedom and innovation. Whilst this might be true to some extent, there are lessons to be learnt from both sides. The main difference between public and …


Multi channel, can you make it work?

In 2000 I was involved in the music industry. I witnessed first hand the “rabbit in the headlights” strategy of all the major labels, panicking faced with the 10% yearly drop in sales of physical products, such as CDs, while digital was not making any money. They drained CD production departments of all their brainpower and focused 100% of resources …

The Second Food & Drink Procurement Industry Forum – Discussion Roundup

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog Leave a Comment

The food and drink sector is facing a number of imposing challenges. Supermarkets continue to wage price wars, which in turn heap further cost pressure on their already stretched suppliers. As a result, some suppliers have cut corners and scandals such as “horse-gate” have erupted. Subsequent reforms aimed at improving the sector’s supply chains are likely to create further complications. …


The Food & Drink Industry Procurement Forum Best Practice Whitepaper

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog Leave a Comment

  The Food and Drink Industry Procurement Forum Best Practice Whitepaper sets out some of the best practice techniques and strategies being used by procurement in some of the world’s leading food and drink companies.   Based on a series of interviews carried out amongst the members of the Food and Drink Industry Procurement Forum  and a survey issued to 255 food …

4C Associates hosts the inaugural Food & Drink Procurement Industry Forum Dinner

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog Leave a Comment

London, April 23rd 2014 A group of UK based Chief Procurement Officers and Procurement Directors from large food and drink manufacturing companies got together to celebrate the first of a series of Food & Drink Procurement Industry Forums 2014 at the Royal Exchange in the City of London on Wednesday 21st May 2014. The Food & Drink Procurement Industry Forum is a …

Inaugural Food & Drink Procurement Industry Forum – Dinner Roundup

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog Leave a Comment

            Finance leaders working in the food and drinks industry have always faced a complex series of challenges. The very nature of the products created by the sector, require an extensive analysis of ever-changing landscape, both economic and physical, in order to consistently deliver high-quality goods. Additional difficulties faced by those in the sector include …


CFO Summit

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The Economist’s CFO Summit: “Your World in 2013. Policy. Economy. Growth?”, brought together more than 100 leading CFOs to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing their businesses. Despite the cautious optimism expressed by many of those in attendance, slow economic growth, instability within the Eurozone and price risk, remain major concerns. Despite the economic green shoots highlighted in many of the …

4C Associates hosts the inaugural Food & Drink Procurement Industry Forum Dinner

Milan Panchmatia 4C Blog Leave a Comment

London, April 23rd 2014 A group of UK based Chief Procurement Officers and Procurement Directors from large food and drink manufacturing companies got together to celebrate the first of a series of Food & Drink Procurement Industry Forums 2014 at the Royal Exchange in the City of London on Wednesday 21st May 2014. The Food & Drink Procurement Industry Forum is a …

Predictions for 2014

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Prediction one: Developments in procurement Jeremy Smith General – 2014 will be the year which will see organisations move away from short-term cost reduction approaches and become more mid- to long-term in regard to supply security and SRM, to control prices in a more collaborative approach with their suppliers. This is because it will be the year when suppliers start to become …


Ethical trading– how to mitigate risks?

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It is 6 months since a major clothing factory collapse at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, which many believe was caused by poor safety legislation and lack of funding. More than one thousand people died and a further two and half thousand people were injured – most victims have been unable to go back to work. Public outcry was experienced across …

If the UK withdraws from Europe, what will be the impacts on UK procurement prices and practices?

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Referendum Since the Prime Minister’s announcement of his intention to hold a referendum on the future of the UK’s relationship with the European Union, questions around the impact of a possible change have seldom been far from the minds of businesses and the media alike. But what would the impact be on procurement? Although it is possible that the UK will continue …

Contracts in volatile markets – Ocean freight procurement in 2013

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Since the start of the recession the ocean freight market has become increasingly volatile. Slowing demand from shippers and increasing supply in space due to new vessels in the market have led to very low rates. Counteractive measures by carriers have included reducing space as well as pushing for General Rate Increases (GRI’s) to limit their losses. Another round of GRI’s …

UK Energy Market Reform and energy buying

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Growing electricity demand along with tighter capacity margins, caused by the decommissioning of coal and older gas power stations in order to comply with carbon emissions standards, increased the need to replace and upgrade the UK’s energy infrastructure. To address these issues the UK government has planned the Energy Market Reform, which is estimated to require a public investment of £110 …

The only worthwhile measure of marketing performance is revenue growth

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4C Associates’ sixth breakfast debate of 2013 focused on different methods of measuring marketing performance. Topics discussed included comparisons of various metrics available, the relationship between sales and marketing performance, and the act of incentivising and managing agencies to deliver first class marketing performance. Peter Marson, Non-Executive Director of 4C, argued for the motion that revenue growth is the only reliable measure …

Systemic risks in global supply chain: Suez Canal

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 In the globalised economy we have come to take the long supply chain from the Far East to Europe for granted. Considerations such as lead times and quality assurance dominate decisions over Far East sourcing. However, such a long supply chain is inherently vulnerable. When making such a major decision, it is critical that buyers understand systemic risks which could cause catastrophic …


How to safeguard your information

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Buyers increasingly need to consider the challenges in preventing information security breaches. As highlighted by the recent case of Edward Snowden, who in working for a supplier to the NSA became aware of confidential information, businesses need to ensure that their security and information controls are effective on supply contracts. It’s okay, we have a contract – or do we? Even …


Financial services supplier risk management

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Financial services industry regulators are serious about delivering the post-crisis stemmed legislation changes. Last year alone fines worth millions of dollars were imposed on financial intermediaries for their failures to adequately shield customers from predatory lending practices by their third party vendors. Accordingly, a recentglobal financial institutions survey, conducted by Ernst & Young, found that tougher scrutiny of regulatory compliance …


Essential ingredients for incentivising advertising agencies

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Measuring the performance of marketing campaigns is crucial for effective long term campaign management and the implementation of adequate incentives for agencies. Campaign, client and business performance should all be measured in order to develop an adequately informed view as all major metrics should be covered. Companies track campaign performance by surveying brand awareness through market research conducted before and …


Apples and supply chains

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One of the reasons behind Apple’s success is the company’s exceptional attention to detail. From the sleek design of its products to the intuitive nature of its software, nothing is left to chance. Thankfully for the California based company, the same amount of planning seems to have gone in to its supply chain strategy.Supply Chain Best PracticeAccording to Gartner’s 2012 Supply …

Why procurement should play a key role in buying external audit services

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With a recent study revealing that almost a third of the FTSE 100 have used the same auditor for more than 20 years, Antony Ray makes the case for increased procurement involvement. It was not too long ago that legal services and management consultancy were seen as areas which procurement should have little or no involvement in. Thankfully times have changed and …


Controlling external influences in negotiations- the Real Madrid case

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The current high profile proposed transfer of Gareth Bale is all over the back pages as described by Jeremy Smith back in May 2013, Tactical Negotiation – Gareth Bale vs. Tottenham Hotspur FC. What we are seeing is Real Madrid, the buyer in this case, adopts their traditional negotiation tactic of leveraging their strengths of reputation, glamour and most importantly money. …


Tendering of external audit: the competition commission’s recommendations

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Procurement has made great progress in recent years in influencing both Legal and Management Consultancy spend. However, procurement’s efforts to help re-negotiate or tendering the statutory auditing requirements have often fallen on stony ground. Lack of competition in the audit industry The Competition Commission (CC) has recently been seeking to address the Office of Fair Trading’s concerns relating to the …


The Future of IT outsourcing?

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The imminent death of outsourcing has been widely reported. Partly due to US economic woes and the close alignment with offshoring, outsourcing is suddenly off the agenda.  These developments leave us with a question; where will the future of IT outsourcing lie? Is there a justification for keeing the IT function in-house?. Application outsourcing deals, based on labour arbitrage, have become less …


Green savings in supply chain

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An increasing number of leading businesses have partaken in green initiatives, aimed at making their supply chains more efficient in order to reduce waste. Boots and Tesco, for example, have committed to reducing food and drink waste by signing up for the third phase of the Courtauld Commitment. This voluntary agreement is focussed on improving resource efficiency and mitigating the environmental …


Data driven procurement in the sports industry

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In the past decade, many professional sports teams have dramatically increased their reliance on Management Information (MI). This data, which includes player specific metrics such as average match speed, distance covered and successful tackles, has proven invaluable to coaches looking to develop game winning tactics. Rugby players, for example, are now tracked via GPS to enable coaches to evaluate an …


Amazon eyes up the online food delivery business

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Although Amazon has yet to announce its plans to enter the grocery market, industry analysts are confident a US based service will launch in 2014. Amazon already has some experience in the sector and runs an online grocery service called Amazon Fresh, which only operates in Seattle. Expanding into the US market would allow Amazon to take advantage of its world class supply …


Why can’t we define supplier relationship management?

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Go to any conference or read any article on Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) and the first thing that will come up is the need to outline what is meant by SRM. In stark contrast, Category Management, Strategic Sourcing and even Contract Management, are all relatively well defined. However, there is no universally accepted definition of SRM that provides a similar level of …


How Google GLASS could revolutionise distribution centres

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The introduction of consumer technology into supply chain procedures is not something new. Digital imaging, for example, is currently being used for multiple purposes, including proof of delivery, capturing shelf displays and even recording damage for warranty claims. Other common examples include Real Time Location Systems, used to track goods, and 2D bar codes for shelf location labelling. Google GLASS has the …


Tactical negotiation – Gareth Bale vs. Tottenham Hotspur F.C.

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The 2012-13 Barclay’s Premier League season saw Gareth Bale become one of the most in demand footballers in Europe. Players, pundits and managers alike lavished praise on the Welshman and he was awarded a number of honours including PFA Players’ Player of the Year and most recently Football Writers’ Player of the Year. His club, Tottenham Hotspur, is keen to …


Managing growing pains and gains – PayPal

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PayPal, a global e-commerce business which enables payments to be made online, is part of a select group of organisations currently experiencing tremendous growth. Speaking at The Economist’s CFO Summit 2013, Patrick Dupuis, Chief Financial Officer at PayPal, explained the steps being taken by the company to ensure it remained a growing, innovative business. Evolving Within the High Growth Mobile …

The changing balance between risk and reward will see a rise in onshoring over offshoring

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4C Associates‘ third debate of 2013, focused on the changing balance of risk and reward in relation to offshoring and onshoring. Topics discussed included the rise in labour costs in many emerging markets, the risks associated with outsourcing to another country and implementing best practice. Ed Ainsworth, Managing Director at 4C Associates argued for the motion, whereas Rob Lees, Managing Partner …

Two sides of the same coin: traditional vs. budget airlines

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  During the past decade the rise in number of low cost carriers has generated significant interest from a number of businesses looking to reduce travel expenditure. However, as the distinction between legacy and budget carriers becomes increasingly minute, travel buyers have to look beyond simple pricing metrics to determine best value.   Meeting Half Way   A number of …


Supply chain scandal forces companies to act

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A number of major corporations were caught on the back foot by the discovery of horse meat in several products. Many of the UK’s major food retailers have had to remove stock from shelves and issue apologises to their customers. The scandal highlighted the growing level of risk associated with global supply chains. Not only does a far reaching web of suppliers …


Reducing excess waste in supermarket supply chains

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Short shelf life is one of the most obvious differences between food products and non-perishable goods. Whereas items such as manufacturing supplies and stationary are fairly straightforward to transport, food products pose numerous challenges. Buyers must pay close attention to a multitude of details, specific to the sector, if they are to optimise operations and drive growth. Fresh Products and …


Tall travel tales: improved processes needed to track travel expenses

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A recent survey carried out by Concur, revealed that one tenth of UK based employees exaggerated their travel expenses in 2012. The study, which was completed by 1,200 workers, also found that 28 per cent of those working in large private companies felt that overstating expenses was acceptable. In stark contrast only seven per cent of those who filed expenses over …


What do incumbent suppliers have in common with Luis Suarez?

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The underlying issue of long term contracts is that changing circumstances may render terms unappealing to one, or even both, of the relevant parties. In this context, how can the buying party ensure a certain level of control? In this post, I have turned to the lucrative world of football for inspiration. Benching Nasri The Premier League has seen several …

Benchmarking is crucial to cost leadership

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Setting challenging KPIs for your business is all well and good, but needs to be done in line with what your competitors are achieving. Many companies are happy to set themselves internal savings and efficiency objectives which result in incremental, year on year improvements. Whilst this approach can provide significant benefits, aligning the process with what similar companies have achieved …

Five tips for getting procurement and marketing together

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As many companies look to freeze marketing budgets, Steven Sargent examines how procurement can help maximise value. The latest IPA Bellwether Report has revealed an increase in marketing expenditure of just 0.1 per cent for the first quarter of 2013. This reigning in of spend could well prove problematic for marketing departments faced with mounting advertising costs. As a function dedicated to ensuring …

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4C Debate: can effective supplier relationship management SRM provide step change impact to a business

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4C Associates‘ second debate of 2013, focused on the ability of effective Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) to deliver a step change to an organisation.  Jeremy Smith, Senior Manager at 4C Associates argued for the motion, whereas a senior buyer working in the financial services industry debated against. For the purpose of the debate, both parties agreed to define SRM as: “The …


Getting procurement through M&A

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Mergers and Acquisitions are a fact of modern business life and most employees will experience a number of mergers or takeovers throughout their career. Often they will view such activity as a threat to their position within their current organisation. This need not be the case. The strategic drivers for a merger are varied, for example the acquiring organisation may …


Meaningful innovation (part two)

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Speaking at The Economist’s CFO Summit 2013, Hal Gregersen, Professor of Leadership at INSEAD, examined how CFOs can foster fresh ideas to prepare their businesses for the future. After ascertaining that innovative thinking is two thirds nurture and one third nature, Gregersen set about developing a process which would help people harvest their creative ability. Working with a team, he examined the …


Meaningful innovation (part one)

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Innovation is a word that gets thrown around a lot. In many sectors it has become an integral part of corporate jargon and has been overused to the point that many have forgotten its true meaning. In the current economic climate, where innovative thinking is vital to surmounting new challenges, companies cannot afford to stagnate. Speaking at The Economist’s CFO Summit …


Energy efficiency and supply chain savings

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Craig Bunker examines the cost savings associated with environmentally sustainable supply chains. Back in January when we brought you our “Predictions for 2013“, we suggested that one key trend would be aligning “green initiatives” with cutting costs. Since then a number of environmentally conscious supply chain projects have been launched and have met with considerable success. Green Incentives Marks & Spencer’s, …


Managing complexity for growth

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Speaking at The Economist’s CFO Summit 2013, Cathy Smith, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Chief Financial Officer at Walmart International, discussed how global companies can juggle multiple challenges and steer their business towards sustainable growth. Walmart opened its first shop outside of the U.S.A. in Mexico in 1992. Since then the company has grown significantly and now operates shops …


Risk Management Roundtable 2013

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The combination of increasingly globalised supply chains and tighter margins, has seen risk management move to the forefront of many business strategies. Companies are more vulnerable than ever before and lack the funds to put in place multiple mitigation initiatives. In this context, the scope for error has been dramatically reduced. This situation was recently highlighted by events such as the ” horse …

Effective performance is not dependent on qualifications

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4C Associates‘ first debate of 2013, focused on the benefits of qualifications versus experience. Andrew Cox, Chairman of Advisory Board & Vice-President at International Institute for Advanced Purchasing & Supply, argued against the motion, whereas Tina Greer, Managing Partner at 4C Associates, debated for. Effective Performance is not Dependent on QualificationsHiring managers agree that the key to selecting candidates, is focusing on …

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CFO Survey 2013 – “Policy. Economy. Growth?”

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The Economist’s CFO Summit: “Your World in 2013. Policy. Economy. Growth?”, brought together more than 100 leading CFOs to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing their businesses. Despite the cautious optimism expressed by many of those in attendance, slow economic growth, instability within the Eurozone and price risk, remain major concerns.     Despite the economic green shoots highlighted in many …


Legal Services 2.0

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This entry is the first in Antony Ray‘s series of blogs looking at the impact of the Legal Services Act. The section of the Legal Services Act (LSA) which allows for law firms to operate as Alternative Business Structures (ABS) came into effect in October 2011. In terms of ownership, this legislation means that for the first time non-lawyers are able …


Horse meat saga reveals lack of visibility in supply chains

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The discovery of horse meat in a number of supermarket products has outraged the British public and led to a call for more stringent checks. One of the most disturbing elements of the story is the lack of clarity regarding which company is responsible for the contamination. Retailers and suppliers have all taken to blaming each other. Aldi, Findus and …

The CFO`s great balancing act

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In an economic landscape characterised by stagnant development, the ability to balance cost transformation with growth is pivotal for any leading business. This situation is particularly true in fast moving sectors, where companies need to integrate long term planning strategies with reactive initiatives. Speaking at The Economist’s CFO Summit 2013, Timotheus Höttges, CFO at Deutsche Telekom, discussed how these challenges were …

The CFO`s great balancing act

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In an economic landscape characterised by stagnant development, the ability to balance cost transformation with growth is pivotal for any leading business. This situation is particularly true in fast moving sectors, where companies need to integrate long term planning strategies with reactive initiatives. Speaking at The Economist’s CFO Summit 2013, Timotheus Höttges, CFO at Deutsche Telekom, discussed how these challenges were …


Leveraging supply chains for parcel deliveries

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The dramatic rise in online shopping has resulted in an increase in parcel deliveries which has yet to be translated into profit. Craig Bunker considers how leveraging supply chains to carry out parcel deliveries, can help businesses bolster their margins. One of the issues currently facing retailers is the cost of parcel deliveries. As more and more customers opt to have purchases delivered …

4C’s Roundup of The Economist’s CFO Summit 2013: “Your World in 2013. Policy. Economy. Growth?”

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This year’s The Economist CFO Summit brought together a number of finance leaders, looking to drive growth in a challenging climate. The World in 2013 Alaisdair Ross, Global Product Director at Economist Intelligence Unit, opened the conference by describing the cautious optimism with which many businesses were approaching 2013. “This year I hope to be more cheerful than on previous …


Balancing risk management with growth

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Today’s CFOs find themselves in a position where they have to guard against an increasing number of threats, whilst driving business growth. The challenge for finance leaders is to successfully mitigate threats and ensure that tighter margins do not translate into a lack of preparedness. Predicting Black Swans Speaking on the issues which are currently affecting the oil business, Julian …


Risk optimisation

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Risk plays an inherent role in the development of any leading business. This is particularly true in the current economic climate, where the most successful companies are often those which effectively manage risk. As the economy becomes increasingly globalised, companies are finding themselves exposed to more risks. Tighter margins and lean, extended supply chains have further magnified the potential effects …


Predictions for 2013

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Prediction one: Cost leaders will continue to set the pace Ed Ainsworth With slow growth being forecast throughout much of the western world, companies which adopt a cost leadership approach are those most likely to succeed. This strategy, which entails becoming the lowest cost producer in an industry, for a certain quality of product, has been successfully adopted by a …


Nate Silver “The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don’t”

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Nate Silver, a statistician and political forecaster at The New York Times, first achieved fame in 2008, when his forecast for the US presidential election proved more accurate than most mainstream polls. He repeated this feat again in 2012, when he successfully predicted the election results in all 50 states. In “The Signal and the Noise”, Silver examines a variety …


Top 10 Blog Posts of 2012

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2012 has been a challenging year for many businesses. A difficult economic climate coupled with huge pressure to cut costs, forced many finance leaders to substantially alter their business strategies. As a result many new and innovative cost transformation techniques were developed. 4C Insights kept on top of the latest trends and best practice solutions to emerge throughout the year.  …


Microsoft latest tablet surfaces on the UK high street

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The decision to make the Surface tablet available through third-party sellers, hints at a show room future for the high street. Although Microsoft has yet to reveal sales data for its Surface tablet, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, has referred to figures as “modest”. There are several possible reasons for this slow uptake, one of which is Microsoft’s decision to …


Evolving supply chains and fuel prices

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As 2012 comes to an end, 4C Associates looks back at some of the predictions  made earlier this year. Craig Bunker considers prediction number 12: “High fuel costs and environmental concerns will drive the need for the next level of supply chain optimisation.” A recent Jones Lang LaSalle survey, revealed that 95 per cent of supply chain managers believe rising energy and transport …


Supplying the last 50 yards of Christmas

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Despite having had 10 months to plan for the festive spending spree, many retailers are not taking full advantage of their shopping outlets. A recent YouGov SixthSense report revealed that UK households will spend £792m less on Christmas this year than in 2011. These findings highlight the need for retailers to optimise all aspects of the supply chain process. Increased …


“The Amazon Economy” – a look at the latest from the FT’s eBook series

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In this compilation of articles and insights, a selection of writers from the Financial Times examine the inner workings of one of the most influential companies in existence. In the space of nine articles, The Amazon Economy touches on subjects ranging from disputes with publishers through to warehouse management techniques. The eBook is scattered with interesting statistics and anecdotes about the functioning …


Making cents of online delivery

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Despite the huge rise in popularity of online shopping, the logistics sector has struggled to turn increased deliveries into a profit. A new survey sheds some light on how the industry can cut costs and keep customers happy. The Hermes’ 2012 Parcel Deliveries Usage and Attitude Survey has revealed that four in 10 consumers are more likely to purchase a product if …


Cost transformation and shareholder value in 2012

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As 2012 comes to an end, 4C Associates looks back at some of the predictions made earlier this year. Edward Ainsworth considers predictions four and five: “There will be more of a focus on the link between cost reduction and shareholder value,” and “Significant savings will come from broader company-wide cost reduction programmes.” These predictions have come partially true. As most western …


Did IT innovation deliver in 2012?

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As 2012 comes to an end, 4C Associates looks back at some of the predictions made earlier this year. Ian Lund considers prediction number nine: “There will be tremendous innovation in IT requiring new skills to manage,” and 10: “This year the CEO starts to look at IT costs, forcing measurement of the business value delivered by innovation.” Back in February, 4C …


Onshoring vs offshoring: the winds of change

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Was 2012 the year rising labour and transport costs made offshoring a costly and impracticable option? As 2012 comes to an end, 4C Associates looks back at some of the predictions made earlier this year. Rob Lees considers prediction number eight: “The pendulum is swinging back; there is a changing balance of onshore vs offshore provision.” A rise in labour and transport …


Public sector cutbacks and private sector competition

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As 2012 comes to an end, 4C Associates looks back at some of the predictions made earlier this year. Tina Greer considers prediction number 11: “Public Sector decline will increase competition in the private sector.” In the wake of government budget cuts, businesses which rely on public contracts have been forced to turn to the private sector to increase revenues. Recently I …


Internal business networks: the coming of age

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As 2012 comes to an end, 4C Associates looks back at some of the predictions made earlier this year. Michele Martinelli considers prediction number six: “Social networks and collaboration will enable new benefits, especially in larger companies.” As social technologies become more accessible and easier to use, more and more businesses are embracing the possibilities on offer. Speaking to the Financial Times, Michael …


Temporary agency labour billing increases

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A recent study, issued by Markit, has revealed that for the first time this year, the billing of temporary agency labour has gone up. The report was released to coincide with the anniversary of the Agency Worker Regulation 2010 (AWR), which provides increased protection for temporary agency workers in the UK. Many expected the legislation, coupled with the financial climate, to …

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Successfully outsourcing MRO

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With benefits including improvements in the engineering stores area, coupled with supply chain consolidation, outsourcing engineering stores currently represents best industry practice. An increasing number of British manufacturers are moving towards a business model which encompasses fully outsourced engineering stores. This approach allows the manufacturer to engage with a single supplier for its requirement of engineering spares.  Benefits of a …

Can procurement drive strategic business decisions?

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Given the current financial climate, cutting costs and maximising efficiency have become key priorities for many businesses. As a result, the procurement function has not only gained in visibility, but also in strategic importance. In this context, 4C brought together a selection of professionals from several sectors to determine whether procurement can drive strategic business decisions.Jamie Ogilvie-Smals, Director at 4C Associates, …

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The future of business travel apps

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Travel apps could help companies strike the right balance between using limited suppliers and providing a broad range of options to staff. According to the World Travel Market’s Meridian Club think-tank, several blue-chip companies are considering moving away from managed travel altogether. New proposals would see employees make their own travel arrangements within a predetermined budget. Although this approach allows …

CIPS Conference 2012 – “Building the Profession of the Future”

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This year’s CIPS Conference, “Building the Profession of the Future”, saw some of the industry’s most high profile leaders discuss how buyers can tackle the new challenges facing the sector. 4C Associates was a Gold Sponsor at the event and was invited to host a session on cost leadership.David Noble, CEO of CIPS, opened the conference with a speech underlining the increased …


Why experience trumps education

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Whereas a person’s academic background can be important, in the vast majority of cases, experience is a more valuable consideration for employers. In a knowledge based organisation such as a management consultancy, business is for the most part carried out by interacting with people. In this context, an employee with experience of how to work with peers, suppliers and clients …


Cost Leadership and economic uncertainty

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What is Cost Leadership? In his 1985 book, “Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance”, Michael Porter identifies three generic business strategies. These approaches can be applied to products or services across all industries, and in companies of varying sizes. One of these, “Cost Leadership”, is a strategy based on being the lowest cost producer in an industry, for a …


Technology companies and HR management

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The world of HR solutions has undergone some dramatic changes in the past few months and more are on the way. Oracle Corp. purchased HR software company Taleo Corp. for $1.9 bn, SAP acquired employee performance management company SuccessFactors for $3.4bn and, most recently, IBM agreed to acquire Kenexa, a HR software manager, for $1.3bn. Why the rise in acquisitions? …


Negotiating the road to success

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There are many different views and opinions on what makes a good negotiator, 4C’s Guy Allen takes a look at some of the characteristics required to secure the best deal.Negotiating is one of the single most important skillsets needed to run a successful business. An advantageous contract with a supplier can be the difference between a successful quarter and bankruptcy. …


The current state of FM: is TFM the right strategy?

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Despite the fragile state of the British economy, the Facilities Management (FM) category, as a whole, remains resilient.A study carried out by MTW Research, highlighted the sector’s long term contractual nature and FM market suppliers maintaining good credit ratings, as key reasons for the category’s buoyancy. The report, which examined the state of the UK FM market, found that despite the …

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Developing future proof supply chains and cutting costs

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A recent survey carried out by Jones Lang LaSalle, revealed that 71 per cent of supply chain managers believe cutting costs will be the top trend for the next five years.The findings are indicative of the current economic situation and reflect the increasing pressure being put on supply chain managers to reduce costs. Other key trends highlighted in the survey, …


Can procurement really add value to logistics?

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As businesses increasingly turn to procurement to drive company growth through savings, concerns continue to emerge about the functions’ lack of sector specific knowledge. Logistics professionals are often reluctant to work with procurement, as they feel the function is purely geared towards making savings and does not have the expertise to judge quality of service. Procurement professionals argue that they …


How to access funding

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It is no secret that the economic landscape has made it difficult for businesses to secure investment. Banks are reluctant to loan money and as a result many companies are struggling to find the funds necessary for growth. There are, however, certain guidelines which will help businesses obtain capital from financial institutions.Realism Trumps OptimismTo secure funding from a bank it …


The challenges of seasonal stock

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As profit margins tighten and businesses continue to search for ways to increase cash flow and mitigate risks, reducing stockholding is an increasingly attractive option for companies. One of the main issues raised by this strategy is the lack of flexibility it affords businesses faced with high, seasonal demand for products. Costs of Seasonal Stock Although there are many potential …


Reverse innovation – book review

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As much of the global economy continues to evolve in a difficult environment, the notion that innovation stems from the more developed nations is increasingly inaccurate. The term “Reverse Innovation” refers to an innovation which has its roots in the developing world but is eventually embraced across the globe.In Reverse Innovation, Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble encourage businesses to focus …


Does procurement stifle marketing creativity?

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A growing number of businesses are looking to drive growth by cutting costs and optimising spend. In this context there is an increasing amount of pressure on marketing and procurement to work together. Traditionally, there has been some scepticism regarding these functions collaborating given their respective mandates. 4C brought together a selection of professionals from several sectors to determine whether …


The effects of weather on retailers

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Unseasonal or extreme weather often prompts speculation regarding its effects on business. Recently, several UK retailers posted disappointing results which a number of media outlets were quick to link to unfavourable weather conditions. However, upon closer inspection, several other factors need to be taken into consideration.Considering all FactorsJJB Sports reported an 8.7 per cent slump in first-half sales for 2012. …


Keeping print profitable

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It is no secret that the majority of newspapers are losing money across the Western world. Traditional print media is suffering from digital competition and remains unsure how to take advantage of the opportunities brought about by websites and smart devices.The issue for newspaper and magazine publishers is that the digital side of the business is not growing at the same rate …

Growth through innovation Roundtable 2012

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Speaking to the Treasury Select Committee, Bank of England Governor, Sir Mervyn King said; “When this crisis began in 2007, most people did not believe we would still be here. I don’t think we’re yet half way through this. I’ve always said that and I’m still saying it. My estimate of how long it will take to recover is expanding …


Marketing ROI in action

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Understanding ROI (Return On Investment) is key to optimising marketing spend. Numerous models and methodologies exist and at 4C we utilise a broad set of tools and strategies to determine where marketing spend is most effective. Each method has its own strengths and weaknesses, which mainly equate to a trade-off between the time and cost of the process and the …

Supply Chain Roundtable July 2012

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Once very much at the centre of consumer activity, the high street is rapidly losing ground to online retailers. This is not the first time traditional outlets have come under threat, however, the ease and convenience of online shopping has drastically altered consumer behaviour. These changes have radically affected supply chain strategy.The reduction in stock heading to the high street …


Frugal innovation in healthcare

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Frugal or ” Jugaad” innovation is a concept which is being embraced by businesses across various sectors. One aspect of this movement, which is particularly relevant to the healthcare sector, is producing low tech alternatives to more complex products.Companies such as General Electric and Siemens, which produce some of the globe’s most expensive and complex pieces of medical equipment, are looking …


Marketing and procurement driving growth together

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Driving growth through cutting costs and increasing effectiveness has become a priority for many businesses. This has amplified pressure on marketing departments to work with procurement and look beyond simply reviewing contracts and suppliers.In many large organisations marketing and procurement teams have been collaborating for years and have already achieved substantial cost and efficiency improvements. These include better suppliers, improved …


Jugaad innovation – review

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Jugaad is a Hindi word which refers to an improvised solution born from ingenuity and resourcefulness. This concept forms the basis of “Jugaad Innovation”, a book which argues that companies need to embrace a frugal and flexible mind-set in order to better foster innovation.Authors, Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu and Simone Ahuja, argue that the current method of nurturing innovation has …


A multichannel approach to fashion retail

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Fashion retail supply chains are generally acknowledged to be some of the most complex and demanding in the retail sector.The fickle nature of the fashion industry combined with the lead time from design to manufacture and the impact of Far East sourcing all present their own challenges.  In addition fashion retailers have to deal with the complexities brought about by …

Cloud computing: an IT revolution or a rebranding of old ideas with a new price tag?

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Cloud computing has long been heralded as an IT revolution, on the verge of delivering a cheap and flexible solution for the workplace. However, despite promises of huge gains in efficiency and flexibility, cloud computing has not convinced everyone. 4C brought together a selection of professionals from various industries to determine whether cloud computing is revolutionary or simply a rehash …


“Buying for business” – book review

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First published in 2004, Christopher Barret and Mark Whitehead’s “Buying For Business” provides a comprehensive look at the issues facing purchasing and supply management professionals. The book is not meant as a definitive guide to the area but rather as an introduction or “refresher”, aimed at new entrants to the profession and curious outsiders.The first part of the book focuses …

Issues in supply chain roundtable spring 2012

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Tackling Supply Chain Issues Natural disasters, strikes and more mundane occurrences such as factory fires have all kept supply chain risk in the news. Recent examples include Pace losing $55m due to floods affecting Asian suppliers and the car industry losing up to half its supply of brake lines after a single factory shut down in Germany.This abundance of coverage …


Addressing the shortage of professional drivers

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Helen Gallimore explores the potential ramifications of the current shortage in drivers, on the road transport industry. During the past decade there has been an increasing shortage of professional drivers across the globe. This phenomenon has so far been partially masked by the economic crisis, however, as some market outlooks improve, the issue is likely to become a major challenge. …


The Eurozone crisis and the pound

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The growing uncertainty surrounding the Eurozone is causing drastic fluctuations in currency markets. How can businesses guard against this instability? Greece’s increasingly likely exit from the Eurozone has resulted in a drastic devaluation of the euro in relation to the pound. Now being viewed as a safe haven for investors, the pound is currently up at 1.25 against the euro, …


Expensive alternative fuel vehicles

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A study carried out by the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) found that one in four business leaders are either using or are considering adopting alternative fuel vehicles. Unsurprisingly the most cited reason for considering alternative fuels was cost. With Brent Crude oil currently at $108 per barrel and the IMF warning that prices could double by 2022, businesses see fuel …

Procure to pay systems – critical for CPOs to deliver value?

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With businesses constantly on the lookout for innovative ways to cut costs, procure to pay, or P2P, systems are often touted as possible cost saving solutions.  There are, however, those who believe their implementation is a waste of money. We brought together a wide selection of professionals from various sectors and industries to debate this issue. Industry expert, Mike Crowley, argued …

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Weak supply chains stunt development

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Supply chains form the basis of a successful business and companies need to ensure they have a contingency plan should something go wrong. Often an event affecting a select number of suppliers can severely delay the production process of an entire company or even industry. Recently, a factory fire in a small town in Germany caused great concern within the …


Investing in supply chain

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An uncertain economic climate has resulted in businesses focusing heavily on reducing costs, often at the detriment of risk management. Is now the time to begin inversing the trend? Companies which make the shift away from short term cost reduction tactics can secure important supply inputs before suppliers begin to see the change in market dynamics. Those who fail to …


Managing disruption in the newspaper industry

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With companies having to adapt to shifting markets faster than ever before, 4C’s Guy Allen considers the challenges facing the newspaper industry. History is full of companies which have failed to react to a change in the market quickly enough. From the slow demise of the UK’s motorcycle industry in the 60s to Kodak’s recent bankruptcy, a failure to embrace …


Supply chain and fuel costs

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For the past 20 years supply chains have been heavily focussed on reducing inventory and capital through the centralisation of stock. This model ensures highly effective distribution networks and excellent customer service, however, it was developed at a time when the cost of capital was relatively high and the cost of fuel was comparatively low. In light of the dramatic …


Manufacturing costs -cheap as China? Part 3

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Although not readily associated with industrial production, British luxury brands are poised to play an important role in the revival of British manufacturing. With the British luxury industry on course to grow 8.5 per cent this year and a multitude of factors combining to make manufacturing abroad less attractive, many brands have turned their attention back to the UK. Speaking …


External legal services – best bought by procurement, or the in-house counsel?

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With legal expenditure coming under increasing scrutiny, 4C assembled a group of procurement and legal professionals to debate the pros and cons of sourcing external legal services with procurement involvement versus the in-house legal counsel sourcing the services themselves. Antony Ray, Senior Category Manager at 4C Associates, argued that procurement was best placed to secure legal services whereas Emmanuelle Recoules, …


Advertising costs to increase in 2012

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With global advertising spend expected to rise by 6% this year, businesses must prepare for costs in the sector to increase. 4C industry sources indicate that advertising prices within the media market will likely increase by 3.3 per cent.  Internet advertising inflation is expected to rise by seven per cent, radio by five per cent and television by three per …


Going Postal – how business should react to the Royal Mail’s price hike

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With the Royal Mail today announcing that the price of a first class stamp will go up by 30 per cent, what can businesses do to ensure their costs are not severely affected? The correct response to any supplier radically increasing prices is to try and mitigate it: reduce volumes, switch to a different supplier or change the business model. …


CFO Roundtable February 2012

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Between the first and second day of the Economist CFO Summit 2012, 4C assembled a group of senior finance leaders from different industries at The Savoy Hotel, City of Westminster. Attendees included Teuta Bakalli, FD, Vanguard Asset Management, David Fry, CFO, North and South East Asia, Pepsico, Richard Jones, FD, Anglia Regional Co-op, Kazimierz Przelomski, Vice-president and CFO, Selena Group, …


Manufacturing costs – cheap as China? part 2

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GlaxoSmithKline has announced plans to invest £500m in the UK to build a new manufacturing facility. This is the first time in the past 40 years that the company will build a factory on British soil. As mentioned in a previous post – Cheap as China? – the economics of global production are changing and the benefits of manufacturing abroad are decreasing. …

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Cutting costs to drive growth – CFO Survey 2012

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High value cost transformation strategies such as procurement and supply chain are pivotal for businesses to continue to thrive in the current economic climate.Whilst cutting costs and driving growth were unsurprisingly listed as the main priorities for 2012, supply risk has also moved up the agenda. This is due to an increasingly globalised supply chain and a series of high …


Increase in labour costs putting pressure on efficiency improvements

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The biggest cost for all business, direct or indirect, is labour. With the national minimum wage set to increase in October, businesses must consider the impact this will have on their costs. The changes mean the national minimum wage will rise to £6.19 per hour which represents an increase of 1.8%. Although this is below the current rate of inflation …


“The end of lawyers?” – A look at Richard Susskind’s legal bestseller

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Widely acclaimed by academics and legal professionals alike, Richard Susskind’s bestseller explores the potential impact of numerous recent developments on the legal profession. Susskind was one of the first to consider the possible ramifications of information technology, communisation, outsourcing and external investment on the legal profession. “The End of Lawyers?” envisages a bleak future for those who refuse to embrace …


Managing the shift from print to online

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With an increasing number of publishers eyeing up the digital market, 4C’s Guy Allen takes a look at the challenges facing companies looking to make the switch from print to online.This week Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. announced that its flagship publication, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, would no longer be issued in print.  The encyclopaedia will now be available exclusively in a digital …


Cpst of manufacturing – cheap as China?

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With the cost of manufacturing goods in China increasing, is it time for companies to move their factories elsewhere?A survey of more than 200 Hong Kong based manufacturers, carried out by Standard Chartered, revealed that local salaries have risen by an average of 10% this year.  Foxconn Technology Group, one of the manufacturers behind Apple’s iPad, estimated that it had …


UK law firms could make FTSE 100

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  With recent studies indicating the UK’s top law firms are large enough to be included in the FTSE100, is it time to reassess your relationship with them? A recent survey, published by Europa Partners, revealed that six of the UK’s largest law firms would be part of the FTSE 100 index if they were publically traded. This new information …

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Minimising supply risk

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Given volatile supply chains, commodity prices and currency rates, how are CFOs protecting revenues and profits? On Christmas Eve 2008, Zavvi, Britain’s largest independent music retailer, went bust. But this wasn’t a failure of falling sales and missing profits, indeed revenue was up 10% earlier in the year despite the recession. No, Zavvi went into administration due to a lack …

The changing role of the CEO

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This year’s CFO Summit, organised by Economist Conferences, saw expert speakers discuss strategies to help finance leaders tackle their increasingly complex roles. Turbulent economic times require finance leaders to deal with issues ranging from developing talent and engaging with the media to the more traditional aspects of supply chain. This article examines the main themes discussed at the summit including …


Transformation –making the case for change

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In today’s competitive global environment, companies that consistently transform will survive and prosper.   They once were great – Leaders in their industry with large profit margins, they employed thousands of workers. They grew at what seemed like an astronomical pace. Then something happened, sales started dropping off. Profits fell. They cut employees and closed stores and offices. Finally, they …

Bribery Act 2010

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4C is working with a number of organisations on ensuring that they are fully compliant with the Bribery Act 2010. While it was not expected by the government that many organisations would need to change, lots of companies are taking the approach that they should set their internal standards higher than is required by the act. This has led to …

High but falling inflation with high volatility drives need for additional savings

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All of our clients are wrestling with this issue. Overall inflation in the UK is now falling (down from 4.4% in February to 4.0% in March, see chart) however this overall decline masks large swings in specific prices. Oil, energy and logistics costs are increasing Labour and people based costs are remaining stable Technology costs continue to decrease Costs of …