Procurement needs to get out of its comfort zone

Procurement needs to get out of its comfort zone

Mark Ellis Blog, Procurement

For many years, leading organisations have understood how Procurement can help define a successful business strategy. Modern procurement functions have a holistic view of their organisations, sectors, and changing market conditions. Spotting opportunities, solving challenges and refining processes are the bread and butter of modern Procurement functions. To the point that in many organisations there is a strong direct link …

A positive view of Brexit II–They may have the discipline, but we have the money

A positive view of Brexit II – They may have the discipline, but we have the money

Steve Harrison Blog, Brexit

I started 2017 with a blog suggesting that getting a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU was unlikely, because they will initially be unwilling and ultimately unable to agree a deal at a price that is reasonable to the UK. Six months on we take stock of how things have panned out so far. Not the politics, but rather …

AI: the value in cognitive procurement

AI: the value in cognitive procurement

Joe Temple Blog, Procurement

4C Associates’ Joe Temple considers the applications of AI in procurement. How much does it cost to store a gigabyte of data?  In 1980, the answer would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars.  In 2017, the figure is closer to one cent.  Improvements in computing efficiency have made it much cheaper for businesses to store and process data.  Thanks …

Procurement: The Underdog in Private Equity

Procurement: The Underdog in Private Equity

Zachary Bachir Blog, Private Equity

Most executives in the PE world understand that procurement helps embed commercial discipline within an organisation by managing its spend patterns and behaviours. The more robust its policies and processes, the more this value is reflected in the bottom line. But there’s a bigger reason behind procurement’s appeal, and that’s because it can be easily leveraged to deliver significant EBITDA …

Procurement in the omnichannel era

Procurement in the omnichannel era

Gopal Iyer Blog, Retail

Businesses today are undergoing massive changes as a result of three enablers: Globalisation, Technology and Supply Chain. This trend is most evident in the retail industry where globalisation has allowed products to be designed for global taste and be produced at the lowest cost; and supply chain fundamentals have supported businesses with flow of goods, information and money. Technology, on …

Improving supply chain due diligence in private equity

Improving supply chain due diligence in private equity

Jeremy Smith Blog, Private Equity

Be honest, how rigorous is your operational due diligence at bid phase? It seems that the reality is that the business mantra of ‘plan for the worst and hope for the best’ seems to be one that is conveniently overlooked when assessing pricing decisions in a market where a 15% acquisition success rate is viewed favourably and risks feel like …

Brexit – New opportunities for Chinese businesses?

Brexit – New opportunities for Chinese businesses?

Felix Benscheid Blog, Brexit, Retail

With Brexit being the leading creator of uncertainty, especially for European businesses, the undefined current geopolitical situation is heavily influencing international business. Even though some may argue that the impact of Brexit on China will be limited, Brexit and its following agreements will create political and economic opportunities and threats that will not stay unrecognised. The ambiguity on currency fluctuation, …

Enabling transparency, control and EBITDA growth through procurement technology

Enabling transparency, control and EBITDA growth through procurement technology

Jeremy Smith Blog, Private Equity

Mid-market private equity owned organisations usually have a short history of rapid growth or intensive merger & acquisition / bolt-on activity. Their next phase of growth is usually based on product or regional expansion and whilst investing in this approach it is vital that cost control is not forsaken. If, and it will be a nice problem to have, growth …

Deal or no Deal

Brexit: Deal or no deal

William Tickel Blog, Brexit, Retail

If the last 12 months have been any indicator, the only certainty is that we can’t be certain of what will happen in the months and weeks leading us up to March 2019. This said, if the current situation offers us any clues, we should be prepared for the possibility of a post-Brexit-Britain without a Free-Trade deal with the European …

Speed to market

Speed to Market – Challenges and Opportunities

Gopal Iyer Blog, Retail, Supply Chain

Supply chains have now evolved into complex beings, which are networked at multiple levels. These “supply networks” are complex not just in terms of the number of entities, but also in terms of their length. It is not surprising to see these modern day networks extending across the globe, delaying the process and information flows involved. To worsen the issue, …

The omniscient retailer – channels and data

The omniscient retailer – channels and data

Carissa Dzwonek Blog, Retail, Supply Chain

4C Associates’ Carissa Dzwonek explores how omnichannel retailers can leverage the latest solutions to become all-knowing. Omni-channel retail is nothing new. Any business with a bricks and mortar presence, coupled with an online offer can claim to operate across multiple channels. More advanced organisations develop frictionless offers across channels, enabling them to convert customers effectively, regardless of the device or …

How Brexit will reshape the UK Retail landscape

How Brexit will reshape the UK Retail landscape

Emanuel Modrovic Blog, Brexit, Retail

Against the background of a ticking two-year clock, this analysis will argue that Brexit will reshape the UK Retail landscape by shuffling the cards once more. There are 3 key Brexit-related challenges facing retailers: Currency and financial movements This is an effect that has already been hitting retailers operating in the UK. Movements of exchange rates outside of their typical …

The rise of cybercrime

The rise of cybercrime

William Tickel Blog, Cybersecurity

Cybercrime is on the rise, and as more of life and business relies on computer technology, the chances that your business will experience a cyberattack (if it hasn’t already) will only increase as time goes on. A recent report has suggested that as many as 50% of SME’s have already experienced a cyber-attack in the past 12 months. Despite this, …

Brexit-Preparing for the After Life

Brexit – Preparing for the afterlife

Gopal Iyer Blog, Brexit, Retail

The June 2016 referendum brought to life even the sleepiest of the analysts, with everyone having their views on how Brexit would reshape the UK economic and social structure – most of them predicting a severe and immediate impact. The more structured arguments signalled immediate impacts on services (Forex, stock markets), near term impact on movement of goods (tariffs, import/export) …

Re-opening the Silk Road; a fresh hope for post-Brexit Britain?

Re-opening the Silk Road – a fresh hope for post-Brexit Britain?

Sebastian MacDonald Blog, Brexit, Retail

With UK politics in disarray after the electoral upset last month, we have seemingly learned two key lessons. Firstly £100m seems to be the going rate to secure the loyalty of an MP for 5 years, and secondly public opinion remains firmly divided on parliamentary leadership going into Brexit.   As policymakers and PR gurus spin and spit their way …

Theresa May’s crackdown on M&A ‘Asset-Strippers’ and the importance of Procurement

Theresa May’s crackdown on M&A ‘Asset-Strippers’ and the importance of Procurement

Jack Greenwood Blog, M&A, Private Equity

4C Associates’ Jack Greenwood considers how the Conservative Party’s Manifesto could impact M&A activity and lead to Procurement playing a growing role in Private Equity. Following the Conservative Party’s troubles during the Snap General Election, Prime Minister Theresa May will move to turn things around by implementing her party’s Manifesto. One key aspect of this document looks to block Investor …

Driving revenue growth and enhancing EBITDA though effective supplier relationship management

Driving revenue growth and enhancing EBITDA though effective supplier relationship management

Jeremy Smith Blog, Private Equity

Despite a reputation as a simple cost-cutter, Procurement can and should contribute more within the realm of Private Equity. A modern Procurement department can balance cost optimisation and growth enhancement to deliver increased value to Private Equity boardrooms and actively shape a business’s strategic direction and competitive differentiation. When the goal is to grow top-line revenue, as it often is …

Do soft skills trump qualifications?

Do soft skills trump qualifications?

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Procurement

Milan Panchmatia considers whether procurement departments should be focusing on recruiting candidates with soft skills over those with academic credentials. Few would argue that hiring a candidate based purely on their academic achievements is a good idea. Anyone who has managed a team knows that multiple elements need to be taken into account before recruiting someone. This is especially true …

Private Equity and the Role of Procurement

Whitepaper: Private Equity and the Role of Procurement

Jeremy Smith Blog, Private Equity, Whitepapers

Despite a reputation as a simple cost-cutter, Procurement can and should contribute more within the realm of Private Equity. Financial engineering is no longer the default means through which Private Equity firms aim to generate value and reliance is shifting towards maximising revenue growth, enhancing working capital and creating higher enterprise value through financial management. Each of these areas represents …

Supply chains, manufacturing and Industry 4.0

Supply chains, manufacturing and Industry 4.0

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Supply Chain

Cloud computing, robotics, automation, data exchange… 4C’s Milan Panchmatia considers how businesses can leverage new opportunities in the era of the ‘smart factory’ Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, has the potential to transform the way in which products are created, transported and sold. This new era was ushered in thanks to technologies such as automation, cloud …

Likely bedfellows - Procurement and Innovation

Likely bedfellows – Procurement and Innovation

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Procurement

4C Associates’ Milan Panchmatia explores the complex and evolving relationship between procurement and innovation. The word ‘innovation’ is overused. It has become one of the cornerstones of corporate jargon and in doing so has lost much of its meaning. To innovate means to do something new. That does not necessarily refer to a completely new product, but also to finding …

Eliminating modern slavery from global supply chains

Eliminating modern slavery from global supply chains

Robin Agarwal Blog, Supply Chain

Slavery is a global issue that affects businesses regardless of their geographic location. International companies involved in clothes manufacturing, farming and mining activities are seen as the most at risk, but the issue can affect almost any industry. The UK Modern Slavery Act has shone a light on the issue of forced labour in supply chains. The Act requires businesses …

Why retailers should look at indirect spend more closely

Why retailers should look at indirect spend more closely

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Retail

4C Associates’ Milan Panchmatia examines how a focus on indirect spend can help retailers impact the bottom line. Most procurement functions do not consider indirect spend the most glamorous area to focus on. In many cases it is an area of spend which is only considered once savings have begun to dry up elsewhere. A somewhat surprising state of affairs …

“See Now, Buy Now” sourcing and the fashion industry

“See Now, Buy Now” sourcing and the fashion industry

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Retail

Changing consumer behaviour has led to a revolution in fashion retail. 4C Associates’ Milan Panchmatia considers how the “See Now, Buy Now” approach will impact established practices. Generally speaking, businesses which sell directly to consumers tend to be those which need to be most reactive to their demands. The propagation of connected devices has led to an increasingly expectant population, …

A positive view of Brexit through the lens of a procurement negotiation strategy

A positive view of Brexit through the lens of a procurement negotiation strategy

Steve Harrison Blog, Brexit

As we look forward to the Article 50 negotiations, Steve Harrison presents a positive case in relation to the UKs trading relationship with the EU going forward through the lens of a procurement negotiation strategy. The principle negotiating objectives in the two-year period prescribed by article 50 are twofold. First is to settle who is liable for ongoing liabilities, like …

The future of retail supply chains

The future of retail supply chains

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Retail, Supply Chain

4C Associates’ Milan Panchmatia examines how retailers can adapt their supply chains to take advantage of new opportunities. The retail industry is one of the fastest changing on the globe. New technologies are being developed at a rate never seen before and the level of competition in the field is greater than ever. Small, agile companies are finding ways to …

Post Brexit M&A opportunities

Post Brexit M&A opportunities

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Brexit, M&A

4C Associates’ Milan Panchmatia considers how businesses can look to profit from the current period of uncertainty. Depending which media outlets you read, you might think Brexit represents the salvation or the destruction of the UK. The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle. There are pros and cons to the country’s decision to leave the European Union and …

The challenge of ethical sourcing for fashion brands

The challenge of ethical sourcing for fashion brands

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Retail, Supply Chain

4C Associates’ Milan Panchmatia examines how global fashion companies can balance sustainable supply chains with the need to grow their business. Supply chains are increasingly fragmented and complex. Rapidly changing demand, economic uncertainty and higher levels of competition, mean businesses are constantly having to review their supply lines. Nowhere is this truer than in the fashion industry. Here companies are …

Lean supply chains - Walking the tightrope

Lean supply chains – Walking the tightrope

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Supply Chain

Milan Panchmatia examines how supply chains have been affected by recent natural disasters and how businesses have sought to minimise future risks. Globalisation has provided businesses across the globe with countless opportunities to reshape their supply chains and reach out to new customers. In some sectors, the sheer number of suppliers available has allowed leading organisations to completely alter their …

What do monopolistic suppliers have in common with top-level footballers?

What do monopolistic suppliers have in common with top-level footballers

Alfred Morris Blog, Procurement

The issue with monopolistic suppliers and top-level footballers is the perception that under changing circumstances they have the power to dictate terms. Many of us will have seen our clubs held to ransom by one of its superstars and a few of us seen a similar situation at our organisations by that one tricky supplier. In this context, how can …

Procurement fraud – are we being complacent?

Procurement fraud – are we being complacent?

Philip Joss Blog, Procurement

As fraudsters get better and better at targeting businesses, 4C’s Philip Joss considers the gravity of the issue and looks at what counter measures can be employed to minimise risks. Procurement fraud is a difficult area for many organisations to tackle. This is not only due to the ever-growing array of threats facing businesses, but also the sheer magnitude of …

How Brexit could impact European private equity investments

How Brexit could impact European private equity investments

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Brexit, Private Equity

As Europe continues to wait for economic stability to return, Milan Panchmatia considers how the UK’s vote to leave might affect equity markets. While the exact impact of leaving the European Union is still unknown, it is clear that Brexit will affect British and European businesses in a number of ways. Initially, currency fluctuations and volatile conditions are likely to …

The future of M&A in Brexit Britain

The future of M&A in Brexit Britain

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Brexit, M&A

Uncertainty and major mergers and acquisitions are reluctant bedfellows, according to 4C Associates’ Milan Panchmatia – but there are reasons for optimism. The long-term implication of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union is difficult to predict. The initial reaction, at least from the stock markets, was a loss in confidence and whilst this has been reversed with the FTSE …

How procurement can drive internal collaboration

How procurement can drive internal collaboration

Mark Ellis Blog, Procurement

4C Associates’ Mark Ellis examines how procurement can reap the benefits of joining forces with other functions within the enterprise. When it comes to driving and extracting value within an enterprise, much is made of the need for procurement to work more closely, collaborating and partnering with key suppliers. However, there are many examples of organisations which have invested in their …

European private equity and international expansion risks

European private equity and international expansion risks

Charlotte Wales Blog, Private Equity

When European private equity firms are considering investing in companies that have ambitions to expand internationally, associated ESG risks must be focused on more sharply as part of this strategy, particularly when the targeted markets are in the Middle East, Africa and Indian regions. Investment in some of these less well-regulated markets and industries comes with far greater operational risk …

The reverse supply chain challenge

The reverse supply chain challenge

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Retail, Supply Chain

Online shopping has resulted in a wealth of opportunities for retailers, but also an array of new challenges. In this post, 4C Associates’ Milan Panchmatia considers why retailers need to take a closer look at their reverse supply chains. It is no secret that online retail is booming. According to figures from IMRG and Capgemini, UK retailers made £114bn from …

Businesses in the age of the internet of things

Businesses in the age of the internet of things

Jeremy Smith Blog, Procurement

4C Associates’ Jeremy Smith considers how the internet of things is changing the way businesses and consumers interact. The internet of things is not a new concept. The idea of countless devices connected to each other via the web has been around since the late 1990s. In fact, Kevin Ashton, Executive Director of Auto-ID Center, coined the phrase in 1999 during …

Responsible investing: Challenges and best practices in emerging markets

Responsible investing: Challenges and best practices in emerging markets

Charlotte Wales Blog, Private Equity

Emerging markets are highly unregulated. While this may provide opportunities for the less scrupulous elements of business, in the majority of cases burning bridges through smash and grab techniques will leave a lasting stain on the reputation of the organisation ensuring any future opportunities are firmly out of reach. Although regulation may be limited, the same behaviours that are legally …

Finding value in the tail end

Finding value in the tail end

Robin Agarwal Blog, Procurement

4C’s Robin Agarwal examines the benefits organisations can uncover by taking a closer look at tail spend Many have discussed Indirect spend tail management and the benefits that it can deliver to companies. However, having worked in Direct materials and services procurement with numerous businesses, we have first-hand experience that Direct tail spend is frequently mismanaged as well. The reason? …

Achieving procurement leadership through external services

Whitepaper: Achieving procurement leadership through external services

4C Associates Procurement, Whitepapers

In this whitepaper, we look at why and how the use of external support and bought in services or resource has become so critical for procurement leaders. The range and complexity of what is expected from leaders now means that no procurement function can meet all the demands put on it without making good use of external resources, whether that …

Procurement's key role in exposing the hidden cost of currency fluctuations in contracts

Procurement’s key role in exposing the hidden cost of currency fluctuations in contracts

Mark Boswell Blog, Procurement

Mark Boswell, Senior Manager at 4C Associates considers the steps Procurement should take to understand and forecast pricing impacts due to currency fluctuations. Over the past 12 months’ sterling has fallen by over 20% versus both the US dollar and the euro. The decline really gathered pace post the UK’s June 23rd EU referendum result with the pound slumping c15% …

Procurement implications for environmental, social and governance

Procurement implications for environmental, social and governance (ESG)

Charlotte Wales Blog, Private Equity, Procurement

With limited direct impact on the commercial bottom line, environmental, social and governance is still viewed as a concern only for organisations struggling with public perception and looking to build their ethical or green credentials. The reality, however, is that all organisations must now consider the long-term ramifications of ignoring these corporate health assessments, where both unnecessary or unmeasured risk …

Putting procurement at the heart of the business

Putting procurement at the heart of the business

Mark Ellis Blog, Procurement

Mark Ellis, Managing Partner at 4C Associates considers the steps the function needs to take if it is to drive strategic business decisions. Procurement has come a long way in the past few years. In some enterprises, the function has gone from being seen as ‘blockers’, ‘bean counters’, ‘policy enforcers’ and ‘enemy of innovation’, to being viewed as a strategic …

Why would anyone want to be a CPO?

Why would anyone want to be a CPO?

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Procurement

Rising risk levels, a lack of relevant skills and managing transition – Milan Panchmatia explores why anyone would choose to be a CPO. As procurement’s role evolves, this needs to be reflected in way it operates within the business. Savings and other traditional measures of success remain important, but no longer encompass everything the function brings. Delivering value – be …

Commodity Risk Management

Commodity Risk Management: Connecting the Arab spring, Manchester United and JFK

Philip Joss Blog, Procurement

Spring 2011: Prince William was getting married to Catherine Middleton, the Arab spring was dominating geo-politics, Portugal was being bailed out by the EU and Manchester United were winning the English Premier League. This was also the peak of the last commodity cycle. Unlike the financial collapse of 2008 (the previous commodity peak) it was not clear during 2011, or …

Horse meat scandal – what’s changed?

Horse meat scandal – what’s changed?

Philip Joss Blog, FMCG, Supply Chain

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 Blog, Procurement

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 Blog, Procurement

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 Blog, Procurement

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 …

Brexit and procurement – poll results

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Brexit

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 Blog, Private Equity

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 Blog, Procurement

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 …

Private equity and unlocking third party spend

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

Mike Lander Blog, Private Equity

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 …

Low Oil Price Effects on Procurement and Cost Cutting

Low oil price effects on procurement and cost cutting

Mark Ellis Blog, Oil&Gas

2015 was the beginning of the storm to hit the oil and gas industry, with the world’s demand for oil falling and supply increasing, the resulting price of a barrel has plummeted to record lows not seen since the last crash in the early 2000s. This has driven a change of attitude across the industry to really examine expenditure, leading …

Supply chain financing

The evolution of supply chain finance

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Supply Chain

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 Blog, Procurement, Supply Chain

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 Blog, Procurement

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 …

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

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

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Procurement

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 Blog, Private Equity

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 Blog, Procurement

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 Blog, Private Equity

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 …

Talking programmatic buying with your Media Agency

Talking programmatic buying with your media agency

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Procurement

There is, I believe, an inevitability that programmatic buying will play a larger part in your media buying landscape over time. The level of efficiency it brings as well as speed of response is likely to drive part of the agenda in the majority of media pitches. As with all procurement activities, understanding the subject matter and mechanics of how …

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

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

Mike Lander 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 …

SRM

Does SRM bring a step change to procurement?

Milan Panchmatia Blog, SRM

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 …

The art of negotiation

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Procurement 0 Comments

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 …

Building procurement’s profile during M&As

Milan Panchmatia Blog, M&A 0 Comments

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 Blog, Procurement 0 Comments

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

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Procurement 0 Comments

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 …

Turning more CPOs into CEOs

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Procurement 0 Comments

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 Blog, Supply Chain 0 Comments

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 Blog 0 Comments

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 Blog, SRM 0 Comments

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 …

What can public and private procurement functions teach each other?

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Procurement 0 Comments

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?

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Retail 0 Comments

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 Blog, FMCG 0 Comments

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. …

Inaugural Food & Drink Procurement Industry Forum – Dinner Roundup

Inaugural Food & Drink Procurement Industry Forum – Dinner Roundup

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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 the seasonal availability of certain key …

CFO Summit: Your World in 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 of the …

The Economist CFO Summit: The present and future of the connected CFO

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The Present and Future of the Connected CFO A tumultuous economic backdrop and a need for innovative cost management strategies have combined to raise the profile of the CFO. Today’s heads of finance must not only ensure that financial records are beyond reproach, but also use their unique insight to drive growth within the business. This increased responsibility has drastically …

Predictions for 2014

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 …

The transformative impact of technology on procurement: 3D printing

The transformative impact of technology on procurement: 3D printing

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Fringe Applications Whilst 3D printing has been prominent in the headlines for some time, it has yet to have a major impact on enterprise level businesses apart from in a few niche areas. However, it’s possible to see from these fringe applications the potential to transform costs in key areas of the supply chain. From a low starting point, the …

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

If the UK withdraws from Europe, what will be the impact 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

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

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

k a Blog, Procurement

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 …

Systemic risks in global supply chain: Suez Canal

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

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

Jeremy Smith Blog, Procurement 0 Comments

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

Petra Urhofer Blog, Retail 0 Comments

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.

Jeremy Smith Blog, Procurement 0 Comments

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

k a Blog, Supply Chain

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 …

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

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 flagship airlines have …

Supply chain scandal forces companies to act

Petra Urhofer Blog, Supply Chain 0 Comments

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 …

Network optimisation and big data

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During my time at 4C, I have worked on a number of supply chain optimisation initiatives. Each of these has required substantial data analysis. To give you an example, our latest project required the analysis of a quarter of a million point to point movements. The growing availability to this type of data has already allowed 4C to drive significant …

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?

Jeremy Smith Blog, Procurement 0 Comments

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

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

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 …

4C Debate: Can Effective Supplier Relationship Management Provide Step Change Impact to a Business

Jeremy Smith Blog, SRM

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: …

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 innovation 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 behaviour …

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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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, one of the UK’s leading retailers, was recently presented with a …

4C’s roundup of The CFO Summit 2014: ‘The Connected CFO’

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This year, the Economist’s CFO Summit brought together some of the globe’s foremost finance leaders to discuss the ever-evolving challenges facing CFOs. During the summit, finance leaders from organisations such as Goldman Sachs, GE Healthcare and Saatchi & Saatchi, shared their unique insights into the changing role of the CFO. Throughout the summit a number of presentations and panels explored …

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

k a Blog, Risk management

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 …

Effective Performance is not Dependent on Qualifications

k a Blog, Procurement

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 Qualifications Hiring managers agree that the key to selecting candidates, …

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 of …

Legal Services 2.0

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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 to own and invest in law firms. Riverview Law, one of the first firms to take advantage of the …

Disruption in the music industry

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Everyone is aware that sales of music CDs have been falling steadily for some time. Sales figures for physical albums in 2012 reveal a drop of 20 per cent, compared with the previous year. Digital sales, on the other hand, continue to grow. Despite this, CDs, DVDs and video games still represent 75 per cent of the market. This situation raises a …

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

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?”

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? A rise in labour and transport costs means that offshoring functions to China, and other nations in the Far East, does not always represent best value. In fact, a growing number of western companies have begun repatriating or ‘onshoring’ certain activities. Surging Costs and …

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 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 Chui, an expert on social media in companies at McKinsey & Company, the global consulting company, said; “We’re seeing everything from enterprise [corporate-specific] social networking to wikis, blogs and micro-blogs.” Faster, Cheaper and more Efficient …

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 …

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?

k a Blog, Procurement

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 …

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 …

Effective SRM: A Win- Win Situation?

Effective SRM: A Win- Win Situation?

k a Blog, SRM

With procurement functions under increasing pressure to deliver quick win savings, long term projects such as Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) are often put to one side. In addition, there is a divide in opinion regarding the involvement of buyers in SRM; in some business the functions are kept separate whereas in others SRM is part and parcel of the procurement …

CIPS Conference 2012 - "Building the Profession of the Future"

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 …

Can Procurement Really Add Value to Logistics?

k a Blog, Supply Chain

With many economists making bleak predictions regarding the ongoing economic crisis, optimising spend is a priority for many businesses. This has led to increased pressure on numerous functions, including logistics and supply chain, to work with procurement to maximize efficiency and drive company growth. Despite this, there remain many who are unconvinced by procurement’s ability to work with logistics and …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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’s Creativity?

k a Blog, Marketing, Procurement

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

admin Blog, Retail, Supply Chain 0 Comments

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

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

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 …

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?

k a Blog, IT

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 it is revolutionary or simply a rehash of …

“Buying for business” – book review

admin Blog, Procurement 0 Comments

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 …

Supply Chain Roundtable July 2012

k a Blog, Supply Chain

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 …

Issues in Supply Chain Roundtable Spring 2012

k a Blog, Supply Chain

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 does not mean …

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

admin Blog, Oil&Gas, Supply Chain 0 Comments

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?

k a Blog, Procurement

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 …

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

admin Blog, Risk management, Supply Chain 0 Comments

An uncertain economic climate has resulted in businesses focusing heavily on reducing costs, often at the detriment of risk and supply management. Is now the time to begin investing 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 …

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 …

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?

admin Blog, Procurement 0 Comments

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

admin Blog, Procurement 0 Comments

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. …

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 …

“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 …

Cost of manufacturing – cheap as China?

admin Blog, Manufacturing, Outsourcing 0 Comments

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 …

Minimising supply risk

admin Blog, Risk management, Supply Chain 0 Comments

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

The changing role of the CEO

admin Blog, Finance 0 Comments

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

admin Blog, Procurement, Retail 0 Comments

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 ended …

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

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

admin Blog, Finance, Procurement 0 Comments

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 …

Procurement innovation is still about people

Procurement innovation is still about people

admin Blog, Innovation, Procurement 0 Comments

Earlier this month we held a round table on procurement innovation with a number of leading CPOs. Most of the discussion was around the key trends of economics, sustainability and technology that we’ve written about here. However, in the discussion at the end we asked what were the key issues that all of these procurement heads were concerned about now? …