Supply Management 20th anniversary
Supply Management 20th anniversary

Go figure: 20 years of Supply Management

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
posted by Paul Snell
14 March 2016

What do you remember about 1996? Football coming home (temporarily, at least)? The birth of Dolly, the first cloned sheep? The release of the Spice Girls’ first single?

Maybe you were among the first to receive the first issue of Supply Management, which made its debut on 14 March of that year.

“Perhaps for the first time, companies are realising what a difference the supply side of their operations can make to the bottom line,” wrote then-editor Steve Crabb in his inaugural editorial. “Supply management is the final frontier for many organisations – the key area where they can reduce costs and add greater value.”

Here are five statistics from first issue of the SM that demonstrate just how far the profession has come in the past two decades.

Can purchasing save the foundry industry? That was the question asked on the front cover of the first issue of SM. In 1996 there were 600 foundries in the UK, producing 1.1m tonnes of iron castings. The concern was the UK was falling behind the rest of the world in terms of competitiveness.

Fast-forward 20 years, and according to industry body UK Castings the figure has fallen to 400 foundries producing 523,000 tonnes of castings.

You could draw parallels with the trials affecting the UK steel industry at the moment – reduced demand, greater competition from overseas, and calls for the government to act to protect the industry.

That was the average salary for a buyer in 1996, as reported in a survey of 2,500 purchasers. Pay increased by 1.7%, which was the lowest rise for six years.

Two decades on, the average wage for a procurement and supply chain professional now stands at £41,661, with an average increase of 2.5% compared with the previous 12 months.

$17.21 per barrel
The price of a barrel of crude oil in March ’96. Even though oil today is more than double the price it was 20 years ago (around $39 a barrel), that’s nothing compared to the peak seen in 2008 when it reached $145 a barrel. At the time, ‘experts’ were urging buyers to hedge against the price hitting $200.

£2 billion
The estimated worth of the UK contract cleaning market in 1996. Can cleaning and outsourcing go together was the question asked in an article looking at the merits of handing cleaning services over to an external contractor. The market in the UK is now estimated to be worth more than £5 billion a year, and it is rare to find instances where cleaning is retained in-house.

2.75 million tones
Do you remember the Yorkshire drought of 1995? 700 vehicles, working 24 hours a day, moved 2.75 million tones of water to the worst hit areas of the historic county.

It shows supply chain risk management is not a new phenomenon. Looking back on one of the largest vehicle movement exercises the UK had ever seen, Yorkshire Water’s Alan Kent told SM: “With enough money you can do anything. The lesson we learnt was that with sufficient commitment, a massive exercise like this can be mounted quickly. However, if you are going to do something on this scale make sure you do it properly and in robust fashion.”

What has been the biggest change in the procurement and supply chain profession in the past 20 years? Have your say in our discussion on LinkedIn.

Portsmouth / Bristol - Nationwide Travel
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Ministry of Defence: Defence Infrastructure Organisation
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