FT: purchasing responds

5 July 2006
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06 July 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor

Buyers have hit back at criticism in a Financial Times article by columnist Stefan Stern.

The column on 20 June traced procurement's move from "the most humiliating of career dead-ends" to being the place where "a lot of the vital action is".

Stern said he sympathised with purchasers who are judged on cost savings alone, but said some looked for costly service providers to tender so procurement could claim "vast but illusory savings".

He described a "quiet revolution" with purchasers involved in an "array of goods and services".

Jane Gibbs, president of CIPS, has issued a reply to Stern to thank him for the opportunity for the debate and agreed a revolution had been taking place.

"This has come about from procurement driving forward and making others appreciate their value, alongside the desire from the boardroom for a more consistent and professional approach to procurement and supplier management."

But she described some of his arguments as outdated and no longer relevant. "We are relationship management experts," she said. "We deal with suppliers from across the world."

Responding to claims that the profession is unattractive to young managers, she added that CIPS is facing rising demand across the world and more universities and colleges want CIPS accreditation.

Larry Beard, purchasing director at Severn Trent Water, said the article took a view that was 10-15 years out of date.

And Chris De Luca, a procurement vice-president at BP, said: "When they laugh about you and talk about you, it's because they recognise that you really matter."


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