Severn Trent fights floods

22 August 2007
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23 August 2007 | Paul Snell

The recent floods have boosted the profile of purchasing at water firm Severn Trent.

The department needed to buy five million litres of bottled water for those who had their water cut off - that amounted to 250 trucks each day.

Larry Beard, purchasing director, told SM: "All the barriers that existed collapsed. It was amazing what people would do to help." He added the crisis had been a great team-building exercise.

He said it was the first time purchasing had a primary role to play in a major incident. The entire purchasing department was enlisted to source suppliers, using the internet and Yellow Pages to identify vendors and supermarkets that might be able to help.

Nearly 1,500 bowsers - the large tanks used to store water on the streets - were borrowed from dairy firms and breweries.

Beard said there had been a varied degree of willingness among suppliers to help, but those that went the extra mile would be rewarded.

He added basic contract terms were in place for suppliers, but the main criteria were availability, price and delivery logistics. The firm said its costs for dealing with the floods could reach £35 million.

SMaug2007

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