22 May 2008
Buyers need to define their targets for sustainable procurement, as well as develop criteria to measure and monitor them, according to the procurement chief at fashion group Hugo Boss.
Gerd Hofmann, head of strategic purchasing, told delegates at the Institute for Supply Management conference earlier this month that as a high-level fashion brand it could not ignore the demands of its customers. "People in procurement are obliged to know about the sustainability of their supply chain."
He said that just as buyers always find a compromise between the traditional three elements of purchasing - cost, quality and time - they should do the same with the three elements of sustainability - environmental, social and economic effects.
Buyers should then pinpoint where within this triangle their firm needs to be, helping to align potential new suppliers with their sustainability strategy and improve collaboration with them on targets. "It makes no sense to work with [a supplier] way out [of alignment]," he said. "This is often a problem that is ignored when starting a sourcing procedure in low-cost countries."
Hofmann also urged buyers to take a three-step approach to approving new suppliers so they fit in with the company's targets. He suggested a rough evaluation to see if the supplier has the same sustainability goals as the organisation, followed by a detailed assessment to discover if the supplier is suitable, and finally a thorough audit before production.