Buyers prepared to collaborate for sustainable supply chains

Gurjit Degun
3 August 2014

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31 July 2014 | Gurjit Degun

A strong majority of procurement professionals would be willing to collaborate with a competitor to encourage a sustainable supply chain.

An online poll by SM has revealed that 90 per cent of the 60 people who participated were in support of working in partnership to help with the sustainability agenda.

The SM Jury also voted in favour of the question, with just one person voting against. Jonathan Randles, group purchasing manager at clothing brand Gap, said: “If you work in a business sector where intellectual property is the difference then this would be impossible to even think about. However, for more standardised products this could well work, but the more standard the product the more stable the supply chain is already.”

Of the 11 jurors who voted ‘yes’, Taras Fesen, procurement manager of the material support department at Konti, said: “Collaboration with competitors for sustainability could bring dividends for the whole industry.”

Brian Grew, senior vice president of commercial partnerships at Live Nation, said it is important to remember that customers expect a sustainable supply chain.

“It is one reason customers buy from a company over its competitors, but there are more factors in the relationship that keep customers’ business,” he said. “Unless a sustainable supply chain is one of the primary reasons that a customer buys, collaboration with a competitor to improve a business process shouldn’t be ruled out.”

Tony Morris, client procurement consultant at Integreon, agreed: “If the product being sourced gives you a competitive edge then you might want to think about an exclusivity agreement, and you might want to think about some rules around the collaboration, but apart from that it’s a great idea.”

Bill Fyfe, head of procurement at National Trust for Scotland, added: “Absolutely, we currently collaborate with other conservation organisations in procuring specialist services, even although we also compete with them for visitors. In a previous life in electronics I have also been involved in collaborative projects with competitors to ensure continuity of supply.”

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