Skan Group's CPO to cut suppliers and hire more buyers

15 December 2011

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15 December 2011 | Angeline Albert

Increasing buyers and reducing the number of suppliers are on the agenda for Heather Roberts,  who has been appointed to lead procurement at Oldbury UK and Boughton Engineering.

Roberts was hired this week by Skan Group Holdings to manage and expand the purchasing operations of its subsidiary Oldbury UK, a supplier to the UK’s Ministry of Defence, and the company’s newly acquired engineering firm Boughton Engineering (formerly Reynolds Boughton), which was bought in May after entering administration. Oldbury supplies bespoke transport vehicles, including trailers for aeroplane engines to be transported by the military, and Boughton Engineering’s products include skip loaders.

As group purchasing manager, Roberts, formerly a senior buyer responsible for a £20 million annual purchasing spend at GKN Auto Structures in Telford, plans to expand purchasing across the two vehicle equipment engineering companies and hire at least two more purchasers.

Responsible for an annual spend of £4 million and a three strong purchasing team, Roberts told SM she intends to reduce the two businesses’ 500-strong supplier base. This includes cutting the number of hydraulic suppliers from seven to three. She will also reduce the number of laser cut part suppliers to save £20,000.

After buying Boughton Engineering, Skan Group consolidated the engineering, assembly and production activities of the company with its firm Oldbury UK at Winkleigh in Devon. The two also now share headquarters and a manufacturing facility in Wolverhampton. 

Roberts, who has more than 25 years’ experience in purchasing, said: “It is the supply chain that feeds a dynamic engineering business and I thrive on personal contact with suppliers. In today’s manufacturing environment, purchasing and cost control, process change and supplier monitoring are absolutely critical. I am joining Boughton and Oldbury at a particularly exciting time in their development and I am really looking forward to the challenges that recent changes and developments are certain to present.”

She admitted benchmarking activity and integration of spend data on the IT systems of the two businesses are among the particular challenges she faces.  

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