65% of the global population has received at least one vaccine dose © Franky DeMeyer via GettyImages
65% of the global population has received at least one vaccine dose © Franky DeMeyer via GettyImages

How looking after suppliers can minimise disruption

The procurement boss at Yusen Logistics has described how investing in suppliers has been key to the company’s success throughout the past two years of supply chain disruption.

Matthew Sweet, head of carrier management and procurement at Yusen Logistics, said businesses had to look at supply chains in a different way.

Speaking at the Supply Management Forum, he said: “It’s paid off in the last two years, looking after the suppliers, making sure that we’re paying them on time, having open discussions, and giving them bandwidth to be creative. 

“And every supplier, without question, has come to the fore during Covid, during Brexit, and now during conflict. We’ve very much looked after the supply base, and they’ve very much looked after us – it’s an investment.”

Yusen played a key role in distributing vaccines throughout Europe in response to the pandemic.

“Talking of logistics, it’s selecting the right suppliers, making sure you’re taking them along the journey with you – all of this was done remotely, but it was built on quite a number of years of developing those relationships,” said Sweet. 

“Our ethos is to look after our supply chains. We’re not jumping around suppliers, which can be typical of the logistics providers market – 'If they’re not working for us, we’ll move to them'. We can’t do that any more, because we won’t be able to go back to those suppliers again.”

Sweet said the period of disruption had changed procurement.

“I think procurement’s almost rebranded itself the last couple of years,” he said. “Continual improvement and cost saving is discussed less, it’s more around security of supply, resilience of supply chain, and also adapting more around cost control, because there’s lots of spin-off things at the moment, particularly with the recent conflict situation.”

Speaking as part of a panel, Kieran Walsh, senior category manager at investment manager M&G, agreed on the importance of supplier relations. “Get better relationships, think about problem-solving together rather than it being quite a transactional exchange of just money for services, and really try to emphasise and embed that,” he said. “And that was right through our internal stakeholder base, from senior relationships right down to operations manager on a day-to-day basis.”

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