19 February 2004 | David Arminas
The UK division of French insurance company Axa is to merge its procurement departments to help it meet its global savings targets for purchasing.
Axa's three departments - healthcare, general insurance and life insurance - have a total budget of £1 billion. The company wants to run them more efficiently and to avoid duplications, said Stephen Wills, who will oversee the function in the new post of head of group procurement.
Wills, who was promoted from head of procurement for the general insurance division, will bring all the purchasing into one department, as well as incorporating the buying of goods and services for insurance claims.
Wills is setting up the department to buy indirect materials including print, stationery and travel, together with all of the company's claims expenses, such as vehicle repairs and thefts, stolen and destroyed brown and white goods.
"Claims procurement is a relatively new area for purchasers and has developed in the past five years or so," he said.
Before joining Axa three years ago, Wills was head of supply chain at Norwich Union and was involved in developing its claims procurement.
"At Norwich Union, I learnt that you have to ensure that stakeholders buy into the changes; it is fundamental for success," he said.
"In the past I have seen good deals with external suppliers reap few benefits when this did not happen."
The new purchasing department at Axa is made up of 40 people. However, there may be some purchasers remaining embedded in some areas outside the department.