Beach buyers take the reins

6 June 2007
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07 June 2007 | Antony Barton

Blackpool Pleasure Beach (BPB) is to expand its buying team to make purchasing more strategic.

Its central purchasing unit (CPU), is to double its financial responsibility, institute 6 per cent annual cuts and increase in size. Currently with two buyers, it is now recruiting a third. It is also consolidating the spend of individual departments throughout the amusement park, including its hotel and live entertainment company.

BPB's annual spend is £14 million, with £7 million going through the CPU. This covers goods and services such as telecoms, catering and components for roller coasters.

Katie Wilson, who joined BPB in December as head of group purchasing, has savings targets of 6 per cent on the £7 million each year to 2009. She aims to route all spend through the CPU in the same period.

Wilson said purchasing is a relatively new function for BPB: "It took the early steps by creating a single CPU and has standardised food and drink agreements.

But some departments still have quite an old-fashioned approach and we want to bring the purchasing standard to a consistent level throughout." To achieve this, she is promoting the benefits of buying through the CPU to each department.

As well as volume buying and a clear view of suppliers' prices, a key selling point for the CPU is its ability to issue penalty notices for failure to reach service levels. Wilson says this is a great benefit in a park that relies on swift maintenance and merchandise delivery.

The retail department was the most distanced from the CPU but, as a result of discussions, the two will collaborate on spend of more than £50,000 a year - a sum usually spent on sweets and rain macs. Wilson also aims to install a purchase-to-pay system within the next three months.

The family-owned firm receives nearly six million visitors per year, making it Britain's top tourist attraction, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.

SMjun2007

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