29 November 2001 | Mark Whitehead
A coming recession will give purchasing professionals the chance to raise their profile, according to a leading finance and travel company.
In a bleak assessment of the economic outlook, Laurent Gampel of American Express told delegates at the ProcureCon 2001 conference in Amsterdam that a downturn was the ideal time for purchasers to make an impact in their organisations.
"Business confidence is at its lowest for many years and consumer confidence is beginning to follow suit," he said.
"In Europe, the economy may be in better shape, but the winds of recession are blowing here too, so the name of the game is cutting costs. That's where we in purchasing have a key role to play.
"If we can show savings, our chief executives, finance directors and board members will listen to us and that will mean a higher profile for purchasing."
The US recession had only just begun to reach other countries, mainly affecting the travel and tourism industries so far, Gampel, Amex's head of corporate purchasing card, Europe, told SM. But he warned that "it's coming to Europe big time".
The latest figures show businesses on both sides of the Atlantic have been hit by the 11 September terrorist attacks, with services especially badly affected.
The purchasing managers index for the non-manufacturing sector in the US, UK and euro-zone countries showed the lowest-ever figures for the month of October.
In the manufacturing industry, the index has hit record lows in Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark.