Chinese suppliers don't deserve reputation for poor quality, say buyers

Gurjit Degun
27 March 2014

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27 March 2014 | Gurjit Degun

Two-thirds of the Supply Management Jury believe Chinese suppliers no longer deserve a reputation for poor quality.

A poll conducted via the SM Readers LinkedIn group also echoed these views, with 58 per cent of respondents siding with the eight Jury members who voted ‘no’.

Lee Parkinson, director of Parkinson Procurement, said Chinese suppliers have improved their processes and quality management systems. “Major brands such as IKEA have built strong relationships with Chinese suppliers who provide very high quality products in an environment where standards and facilities for workers have improved dramatically,” he said.

Alex Martin, IT business services principal consultant at SAP, said Chinese suppliers “definitely do not deserve this reputation”. He believes that poor quality may be the case for some suppliers but the majority are “strongly competing with western organisations when it comes to quality”.

Of those who voted ‘yes,’ Sue Fleming, owner of DrummondFleming Associates, which provides procurement education to small firms, said: “We continue to hear about their poor health and safety for workers.” She pointed out a recent “horror story” in SM about asbestos found in Chinese-manufactured rolling stock.

Eunja Hwang, supplier expeditor at Howden, added: “It is a very sensitive question to answer and it depends on both what material/product buying organisations are purchasing and which suppliers buying organisations are working with.

“My personal opinion is the quality of the material my company imported from China did not meet our client’s quality standards so some clients strictly prohibited us from using Chinese material for our production. We have had more quality-related issues with Chinese material than from other countries.”

The Chinese state media has recently accused western companies and brands of unjustly stereotyping manufacturing in the country as low quality to pass the blame to suppliers.

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