16 January 2003 | David Arminas
The global procurement function at financially troubled telecoms giant Cable & Wireless has taken on the firm's worldwide property portfolio as part of its bid to regain financial stability.
Ninian Wilson, senior vice-president for global procurement, told SM the move gives procurement more responsibility because of its performance on keeping costs down.
He said: "The procurement function has been given a wider remit and broadened its footprint within the business.
"We now have accountability for the property portfolio of all administrative offices, a significant area that tends to be long-term leases on buildings."
He said the move should bring more commercial support to the property experts and keep costs down. "It recognises a lot of work we have done on process measurement and standard negotiating skills," he added.
C&W has lost its place in the FTSE 100 index and, just before Christmas, its share price tumbled to a 20-year low of about 45p. It is now seeking to cut European staff numbers by up to 65 per cent, amounting to about 800 people.
Wilson said that although global procurement is seen as one solution to C&W's problems, he could not guarantee there would be no job losses. "There are extensive consultations for job cuts throughout the company, but no definite indication yet if jobs in procurement will go," he said.
He said procurement was on target to reduce its annual £3-4 billion budget. A major e-procurement system was launched last year, winning the best use of e-procurement category in the Kelly's CIPS Awards for Excellence in Purchasing and Supply. It is expected to save £25 million a year.
Anton Roe, a specialist in procurement and logistics at the recruitment consultancy Matchtech, said purchasers had improved their job security in recent years as their contributions to corporate performance had been better recognised.
He added that as manufacturing declines he has seen more engineers seeking work in procurement because they can use their knowledge of engineering production and processes.