Olympian effort

6 September 2011
David Noble, chief executive, Chartered Institute of Purchasing & SupplyRemember that old fiat Strada advert tagline ‘hand-built by robots’? The message was about quality, consistency and timeliness. Well, the tagline for London 2012 could just as well be ‘hand-built by UK SMEs’. While household name corporations won the tier-one contracts, the completion of all the major venues a year ahead of the Games is due in no small part to the 75,000 or so small- and medium-sized companies working in complex supply chains to meet the Olympic Delivery Authority’s targets. This is a real success story in difficult times for UK business. It says something, too, that because European procurement rules meant the tendering process for large contracts had to be open to competition in Europe, with a few notable exceptions UK companies fought off bids from some of the biggest European corporates for major construction projects. Test events are being held to ensure all the facilities are up to scratch and the final countdown has now begun, but there is still a lot of equipment to buy and final fitting out to be completed. With an estimate of an additional consumer spend of around £2 billion, London 2012 is a big opportunity for many businesses, particularly retailers. However, there is some concern that while companies are planning to increase stocks to meet the expected surge in demand, few are anticipating the strain this will place on their supply chains. There is also the likely pressure on human resources – with tens of thousands of employees expected to take their annual leave to coincide with the Games. We saw how the UK growth figures for Q2 were affected by a royal wedding and a bank holiday within the same week, so the chances are that we will see some degree of business interruption next summer. London 2012 sponsor Deloitte is so concerned about the potential impact on its own business that it has asked its suppliers to set out their plans to ensure continuity of service while the Games are on. Our economy is built on SMEs and they are vulnerable in the current economic climate.  The Olympics have provided a fantastic stimulus and only a tiny handful of the tens of thousands of companies involved have gone bust during the course of the project, well below the national trend for company failures. The Bank of England has warned that the debt crisis in Europe will hit SMEs hardest. Because they are so dependent on the banks for their liquidity, any tightening of bank lending policy is bad news. London 2012 is already a great advert for British business – let’s hope that one of the lasting legacies of the Games is a strong SME sector.   Council run-off ballots The run-off ballots for two council seats have been completed. In the first round, the elections for the East Central seat and the new Europe/Middle East seat each resulted in a dead heat between two candidates. It was agreed at the institute’s AGM on 18 June to hold run-off ballots to find  clear winners. The result of the voting has now been announced by the Electoral Reform Services, which conducted the ballots. Congratulations to successful candidates Michelle Wang (East Central) and Waleed al Saeedi (Europe/Middle East). They will take up their posts on 1 November.   ☛ If you have any comments or wish to raise a topic, please get in touch at ceoblog@cips.org
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