03 November 2005 | Rebecca Ellinor
The procurement department at South Africa's largest retail bank Absa is to double in size following the majority stake takeover by Barclays Bank this summer.
Ian Russell, a director at Barclays, is on secondment to Absa as interim general manager for sourcing, where he will set up a team and establish best practice.
Russell said the new structure, currently in the design stages, will be implemented from 1 January 2006, although he doesn't expect to have all of the 60-strong buying team in place by then.
He told SM
: "It's great to be at the forefront of mergers and acquisitions activity and thinking about how to create a new team from scratch in an organisation and country where maturity of procurement best practice, let alone sourcing, is relatively low and the skills base scarce."
The new team will be charged with using the banks' combined leverage to strike new deals. "We are both big buyers of IT support, software, hardware and equipment," said Russell, "so we can negotiate deals together."
The procurement team will handle operational transactional activity and strategic sourcing, such as managing catalogues and implementing SAP.
Russell said while around 80 per cent of the structure will follow the Barclays model, it will also reflect cultural and legal differences.
"We're trying to make it the same as Barclays' global sourcing network but it's important to be sensitive to local norms. We'll tailor activities to local market conditions and comply with legislation on the way we source and whom we source from," he said.