'Suppliers being fans makes procurement in sports clubs easier'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
28 January 2015

Buyers in sporting organisations can make better deals when suppliers are also fans, an event was told.

Ian Sidgwick, group purchasing director at The Jockey Club, said suppliers wanted the cachet of being “official supplier” to the organisation.

Speaking at the Procurement in Sporting Organisations event organised by the CIPS Central London branch, Sidgwick said: “A lot of suppliers really want to say ‘official supplier to The Jockey Club’. We do get a lot of the directors of suppliers who really like horse racing and that really helps with the deal.”

Sidgwick said he joined the organisation eight years ago, when there was no purchasing operation.

“When I joined there was quite a lot of resistance to group purchasing,” he said. “It was not easy. People were used to doing their own thing. They weren’t sure central purchasing was right for horse racing: ‘all the race courses were unique’. They are unique but in terms of the copy paper they use they are not that unique.”

Sidgwick said there was procurement spend of around £40 million a year across 15 race courses on items including tractors, “weeds, seeds and feeds” and machinery hire. “We have the largest contract in the country for giant screens,” he said.

He said Jockey Club Services, which offers outsourcing services to other sporting organisations, was achieving savings of up to 40 per cent for clients.

Ian Fenwick, group procurement director at the Football Association (FA), said: “When we’re trying to engage and set up a tender, we not only look at the company, we engage with them on a fan level.

“It’s a very powerful tool when you to into a negotiation. Suppliers are fans and that’s part of your negotiation strategy.

“We don’t have the spending power of a FTSE 200 [company] but we can use that leverage to engage with suppliers.”

Fenwick, who has been in post for three years, said the FA spent £120 million a year, with facilities management being the biggest area of spend at £30-£35 million.

Prior to him joining he said the FA did not have a procurement department but stakeholders had now come round. “I’m pleased to say certain stakeholders will put their arms around me, rather than putting their hands round my neck,” he said.

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