From left, moderator Oliver Cock, Philip Molnar, Alan Draper and Jim Townsend at the CIPS Annual Conference © Leo Wilkinson
From left, moderator Oliver Cock, Philip Molnar, Alan Draper and Jim Townsend at the CIPS Annual Conference © Leo Wilkinson

Britvic buyers 'unshackled' by Brexit

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
17 October 2017

There has been a “significant shift” in the way procurement is viewed at Britvic because of Brexit.

Philip Molnar, chief procurement and technical officer at Britvic, said his team had been “unshackled” and were now able to work in more creative ways to deal with the fallout from the UK’s departure from the EU.

Speaking at the CIPS Annual Conference in London, Molnar said: “There has been a significant shift in the way procurement is perceived in the organisation.”

During a panel discussion on Brexit, Jim Townsend, CPO at Walgreens Boots Alliance, said buyers should be more entrepreneurial and not worry about “having a seat at the table”. “Make it your table and choose who you want around it,” he said. “Have the confidence and self belief.

“It’s turbulent, but what a fantastic place to be from a procurement perspective.”

Molnar said shifts in the foreign exchange market and the cost of raw materials and commodities meant the function had a higher profile, with him addressing the board and procurement seen as key in mitigating risks.

Molnar said he was in charge of £1.5bn spend with a team of 40 in the UK, nine people in France and nine in other countries.

“The team has been unshackled. There has been a mentality shift in the procurement team about what they can do,” he said.

Molnar said Britvic was planning for a hard Brexit and was working with its major UK suppliers on an open-book basis to calculate their exposure to risk. “We are relatively comfortable that we have done the analysis and our suppliers are facing the challenges,” he said.

Molnar said the key skills required from procurement professionals in the face of Brexit were good analytical skills and an ability to communicate. He has also sent buyers to visit the company’s factories and those owned by suppliers to understand processes and seek out efficiencies. “A hard Brexit can be significantly mitigated,” he said.

Alan Draper, director of purchasing at Ford, said 75% of components in the UK came from Europe and they had developed three traffic light scenarios: a red hard Brexit, an amber one and a green one, where things stay broadly the same. He said the red scenario, in which full WTO duties are paid on components and vehicles, would cost Ford “millions of dollars”.

He said despite uncertainty automotive suppliers were still investing in the UK. “The key in the purchasing world is make sure you know what your suppliers’ plans are and are working together,” he said.

Draper said restrictions on the free movement of people would be “a significant issue” for Ford as its suppliers relied on EU labour in their UK factories.

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