Buyers describe volcano disruption

22 April 2010

22 April 2010 | Allie Anderson

As the cloud of volcanic ash caused disruption to thousands of air travellers, one procurement manager looked to his suppliers to help get a colleague home.

Malcolm Madeley, purchasing manager at Sears Seating, told SM this week he asked European vendors with UK-bound carriers in Bologna if they could bring back the firm’s sales manager, who was stranded in Italy for over a week.

While his colleague is now set to make it back by train, the fallout from the ash cloud had a direct effect on Sears’s procurement operations. “We have a couple of projects at the moment where we are looking at cost savings opportunities, and [our sales manager] is an essential part of that as he is an interface with our customers, so that hindered us,” Madeley said.

“We are also trying to contact European suppliers but in some cases the person we are trying to contact isn’t there. That has slowed things down too.”

A buyer at an automotive giant, who asked not to be named, told SM some colleagues had been stranded while making supplier visits in Turkey, Japan and Russia. His department is also addressing risk management to establish the volcano’s impact on its supply base.

Meanwhile, the Forum of Private Business urged SMEs to be flexible with staff marooned overseas, suggesting offering discretionary paid leave for a fixed period, where remote working is not option.

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