This week I attended – and spoke at Sainsbury’s fourth annual supplier conference and awards. Alongside a host of speakers from the supermarket who addressed strategic suppliers on subjects from sustainability to logistics, online developments to customer insights, the opening presentation was given by a board director – this year, chief financial officer John Rogers. As I said to the gathered group, strategic relationship management (SRM) doesn’t work without the support of those at the top.That was the case at Premier Foods, which in 2010 won the best example of supplier relationship management gong alongside British Sugar at the CIPS Supply Management Awards, as well as being named the overall winner. Agreement from the board is what enabled the procurement team to change its approach to supplier management and ensure surety of supply of a vital category. And other organisations that don’t just say they’re doing SRM but actually do SRM have been the same. I’ve seen the Royal Mint CEO present awards to suppliers, in 2010, 73 per cent of finance executives surveyed on the subject said supplier relationships were a corporate priority and even Lord Alan ‘You’re fired’ Sugar recognises its importance. He told SM: “You have to build supplier relationships…so that in good times and bad times you have support.” I understand that Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King has presented at past supplier events, but since the company just announced its latest results of good sales and profit growth to the city last week, King was taking a well-deserved few days off. CFO John Rogers was an excellent speaker, open, approachable and plain-speaking. Following his presentation he happily answered questions from suppliers, some of whom later picked up awards for their efforts helping Sainsbury’s succeed as a business. His presence helped to demonstrate that with support from the top, procurement can help its organisations achieve a multitude of objectives covering risk, innovation, sustainability, quality and service, to name but a few.