Buyers split over what to tell suppliers about foreign haulier use

1 February 2012
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1 February 2012 | Angeline Albert

Buyers answering February’s SM100 poll are divided over whether they would urge suppliers to use UK haulage companies instead of foreign firms if the government starts charging lorries for road use.     

SM reported that buyers may pay higher costs to import goods if the UK government charges lorries for using UK roads. The government plans to compensate only UK hauliers to offset a charge for using Britain’s roads but foreign hauliers may pass the extra cost on to customers.

To avoid suppliers passing foreign haulier charges onto buyers, 50 per cent said they would encourage suppliers to use UK hauliers instead, but 50 per cent said they would not.     

Of those who responded ‘yes’, Martin Wakelin purchasing director at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, said: “We would certainly consider it as we are always looking for the most economical way of shipping goods. We will work with our UK suppliers to ensure they too use the most economical transport.”

Gillian Fletcher, supply chain director at Babcock International Group, said yes but highlighted her reservations. “Part of our procurement charter is to support UK business by using UK-based partners wherever possible and commercially viable. As a global business however, there will be times where pan-European or international hauliers are the right partner for our requirements and so there is always a balance at play between the two.”

Many buyers highlighted the complexity of making such a decision. They stressed cost-competitive considerations and a need to meet sustainable criteria including whether good working time practices were followed.

Of those who responded ‘no’, Andy Foulis, head of shared services at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “I’d be more interested in the best value for money solution. It may be that specialist hauliers are required for specific goods and I would leave the choice to the supplier. As long as the delivered cost was competitive I wouldn’t interfere.”

Andrew Grover, contracts manager at Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium, who said ‘no’, told SM: “More likely as a course of action would be suppliers using their hauliers until the last port before the UK, and then – if cost and service proves beneficial – changing to a domestic company.”

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