07 August 2003 | Robin Parker
Foods producer RHM has appointed its first group procurement director to centralise some of the company's most common supplies.
Gerry Walsh will be the sole purchaser to have a group-wide view of the company's £1 billion procurement spend and oversee individual business units.
RHM (formerly known as Ranks Hovis McDougall) produces a wide range of household food brands, including Mr Kipling cakes, Hovis bread and Bisto gravy granules.
Walsh, who is a fellow of CIPS, joins the group after nine years at American Express, where he was, until recently, vice-president of global procurement.
He will have a brief from chief executive Ian McMahon to move away from procurement currently conducted along brand lines.
Walsh said: "I'm looking forward to the challenge of taking something that is quite immature and developing a robust procurement strategy."
He believes there is a great deal of potential for centralising the procurement of common supplies such as flour, sugar and packaging, and for some services.
He was encouraged that the new post is based at the company's Marlow headquarters and that he will report to the chief executive, similar to the position he was in at American Express.
"It's exactly where procurement should be as it demonstrates the company's understanding of the value it can bring to the business," Walsh said.
"Getting procurement to the top table is hard to achieve, particularly in the financial services world. I am tremendously proud that my team at American Express achieved it, and RHM clearly understands the need to do the same."
Walsh starts the job on 2 September and will be looking to put together a central purchasing team.