Levi Strauss to establish centre-led indirect procurement function

Gurjit Degun
6 April 2014

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7 April 2014 | Gurjit Degun

Clothing brand Levi Strauss is looking to create a centre-led, global approach to indirect procurement, and improve the management of its suppliers.

Celeste Smith, director of global indirect procurement at Levi, said the company has a global spend of around $1.8 billion (£1.09 billion), of which it wants to manage $1.2 billion (£723 million).

Speaking at the ProcureCon Indirect conference in London last week, Smith explained the indirect procurement function is “very much in its infancy” at the clothing business. The staff consists of six people in San Francisco and she is based in Brussels with another team member, “so we clearly are not resourced appropriately to manage that kind of spend,” she said.

Smith said the team partnered with a consultancy “to help design the roadmap” and it was the first time the team has looked at the global spend. “Sometimes it’s hard when you have consultants in your space looking at what you’ve done but I just kind of have to relax and recognise that it’s really a great opportunity to highlight what we have, don’t have and what we need,” Smith told delegates.

“So that’s really the first time in six years that we really have a serious engagement at the leadership level of what indirect procurement could mean for the organisation. We are at this really fantastic turning point.”

Smith said her move to Brussels from the San Francisco office in the last six months has helped her engage with business partners better. “It was really impossible for me to do when in San Francisco, but my learning curve has to be faster because I’m sitting here with people,” she told the conference.

She added there is a lot more to be done in supplier management. “I think we can do a lot more with resources, but we don’t manage our suppliers in the way that we ultimately see what success looks like,” she said. “There are greater ways of enhancing our relationship with our suppliers.”

Delegates heard that although Smith wants to create a centre-led global function, she also believes there should be good regional support. “Success for me looks like a centre-led, a global approach to managing indirect – not necessarily with global suppliers, but that we have a very consistent and disciplined approach to procurement globally.

“Centre-led [means that] everyone is on the same page in terms of methodology and approach, but I think it’s the very important to have the same regional support.”

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