Commercial manager brings 'rigour and robustness' to Wimbledon contracts

Rebecca Ellinor Tyler is former editor of Supply Management
29 June 2018

A new roof for No 1 Court is the top project for tennis championships’ first procurement head

Every job has its peak times. For Hugh Sanderson the biggest pressure point is the build-up to Wimbledon fortnight when half a million visitors and more than one billion news viewers turn up, tune in or log on to follow the Grand Slam.

As commercial manager for facilities at the All England Lawn Tennis Club – the first in its 150-year history – he is responsible for thousands of seats (including the Royal Box), aircon, heating, cleaning, security, waste, parking, maintenance and more. Together with three facilities managers, Sanderson helps ensure the site in south-west London is fit to serve its 200 permanent on-site staff and the 39,000 extra visitors per day during the Championships.

They ensure everything from the players’ fitness equipment to the fridges chilling more than 34,000kg of strawberries, 10,000 litres of dairy cream and 29,000 bottles of champagne are up to scratch.

His appointment in 2015 followed a shake up that led to the creation of a commercial manager. “Previously work was done on very much a purchase order basis, so now it’s less reactive. There’s more continuity and we’re managing commercial and contractual risk,” he says. “We also look at every opportunity for efficiencies that don’t jeopardise quality and value.”

Sanderson has introduced a system for managing contracts and has a clear line of sight to the top, with his boss reporting to a main board director. “There is now more rigour and we have more contracts in place,” he says. “For example, we now have a more robust agreement for the maintenance of the roof for Centre Court, which will be similar to that for No 1 Court. When you press ‘close’ on the cover there are 24m people watching, so it can’t go wrong.”The retractable roof, installed in 2009, is soon to be joined by one on No 1 Court. Work on that project started in August 2016 and will be complete by 2019. A fixed outer section will be finished by this summer, followed by the full 5,500m² concertina-design next year. It will take eight minutes to deploy and will ultimately mean that play can continue regardless of the weather.

And after supporting the IT and broadcast teams on a tender for scoreboard frames and the screen on Henman Hill, Sanderson hopes to get more involved in other categories in future. “I can see the opportunity, it’s about winning hearts and minds by demonstrating you can add value.”

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