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New initiative champions best practice to recruit and retain female professionals

More needs to be done to recruit and retain women and last Sunday’s International Women’s Day was just the start…

More needs to be done to train and retail female professionals

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has joined forces with Prospect, the trade union representing professionals in the UK, to announce a new joint working group to help companies recruit and retain more women engineers and scientists.

The group, which has grown out of a conference to coincide with International Women’s Day, will establish best practice guidance to share across industry on how best to recruit and retain women in science and engineering roles.

Read more: It’s time to tackle career stereotypes

Whats’s holding women back? 

In the engineering industry alone, only six per cent of engineers in the UK today are women. This is due to a number of factors from the careers advice girls are given in schools, to schools not instilling girls with the confidence to opt for science and maths at A level. But it is also due to some employers needing to make their approach to recruitment and retention more female friendly. This is unfortunately an issue all too common, that affects women from all walks of life, engineering or otherwise.

Supported by Meg Munn MP, Baroness Prosser, Naomi Climer, President of Sony Media Cloud Services and IET President-elect, and Denise McGuire, Vice President of Prospect, the group will also have industry representation from a range of major employers who attended the conference, including the Met Office, Atkins Global and BAE Systems.

Unconscious bias: How can organisations and individuals shift subconscious social attitudes, stereotypes and ingrained recruitment and promotion attitudes that exist and negatively impact a more diverse workforce?

Good practice for retention: How can we encourage organisations to recognise that creating a level playing field for women benefits everyone. Flexible working, fair pay and a more inclusive culture should be on all organisations’ agenda because they are proven to improve overall staff retention, and are good for business.

Commenting on the new working group, Naomi Climer, President-elect of the IET and a member of the working group said: “We have talked about the lack of women in engineering and science for many years now. More female-friendly retention and recruitment practices are an important part of the challenge. By bringing together a working group which for the first time has representatives from Government, trade unions, industry and professional bodies, we want to get to the crux of the issue and come up with some hard hitting and practical guidance that can help more companies address this significant problem.

“While International Women’s Day is about championing women’s achievements, it’s also about making sure that women are achieving their potential. And it’s also about making sure our world economies – which increasingly depend on engineering, manufacturing and technology – are not being hampered by the fact we are missing out on the talent and contributions of 50 per cent of the potential workforce.”

Denise McGuire, Vice President of Prospect, said: “Women are in STEM for careers, not just for International Women’s Day! We need to stamp out Unconscious Bias and make the world of work a fairer place for everyone.”

Read more: International Women’s Day

Fighting for the animal’s right in the food chain

The Sunday roast, the Christmas turkey dinner and the summer BBQ – most of us enjoy meat as part of our diet. But do we give enough consideration to animal welfare in the supply chain?

Fighting for the animal's rights in the food chain

For many people, meat plays a part in most meals during a week. Traditionally, the Sunday roast was a time for families to sit down and enjoy a long, relaxing meal and some quality time together.

However, over the past couple of years, there has been increasing focus on the welfare of the animals, from battery and caged hens, to stall-bred pigs and cows. Despite the best efforts from some high-profile organisations, there are concerns that there is much still to be done.

Meat Sales on the Rise

In the past year, sales of all meat in the UK have increased, following falls in 2013 in relation to the horsemeat scandal. It may come as a surprise to many, but sales of horsemeat have actually increased too, with more people enjoying the meat as a leaner alternative to beef.

Sales of Scottish meat have been given a boost by a new partnership with Swedish retailer ICA, while Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) – Meat Promotion Wales – aims to increase Welsh beef and lamb sales by more than one-third by 2020. Part of the HCC plan involves ensuring that farmers are balancing efficiency with sustainability and strong environmental credentials.

Welfare Concerns

But further afield, welfare concerns still abound. Australia has seen a boom in exports of live cattle for slaughter to Vietnam, with a 274 per cent increase in sales between 2013 and 2014. However, exports are predicted to slow dramatically in coming months due to a number of factors, one of which is the suspension of facilities due to animal welfare concerns and suspect supply chain practices.

It was also reported in the USA last week that both McDonalds and Costco are phasing out the use of human antibiotics in their chicken supply chains. The move comes after consumer pressure and concerns that the common use of these antibiotics could increase bacterial resistance to treatment, potentially creating ‘super-bugs’ in humans.

Although McDonalds has given suppliers two years to comply, many experts warn that it will take up to a decade to fully eradicate the practice.

Similar timescales can be expected on the eradication of caged-hen eggs in supermarkets. In Australia, Woolworths and Coles, both came under public scrutiny for stocking caged-hen eggs in the past year. Both have since removed own-brand caged eggs them from their shelves, but they won’t be fully removed from shelves until 2018.

Global Efforts

Full-scale, global change in animal welfare will take time. Organisations need to take responsibility for not only their own practices, but also the practices of their supply chains, down to second and third tier suppliers and beyond.

In late 2014, Nestle signed an agreement with World Animal Protection to improve the standards of animal welfare in its supply chain, while Subway, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer all have existing commitments to sustainability and animal welfare as part of long-term goals.

As consumers, we can also play our part by purchasing sustainably. If it becomes unprofitable for organisations to source in a way that is not sensitive to animal welfare, then it’s more likely that change will take place.

Find out more about UK animal welfare policy by clicking here.

Read on for the other procurement and supply chain stories making the headlines.

Fairtrade Foundation assesses female participation in international supply chains

  • As the world prepared to celebrate International Women’s Day Sunday (8 March), Equal Harvest, a new study published by the Fairtrade Foundation, states that enabling more women to join the organisations that grow produce such as bananas, cotton and tea, could benefit businesses and support global development, as well as bringing gains for women.
  • Although women make up almost half the agricultural workforce in developing countries, they account for just 22 per cent of the farmers registered as members of the 1,210 small producer organisations that are certified by Fairtrade. Legal, social and cultural norms often act as barriers to women’s participation, for example, membership of co-operatives can be dependent on owning land or crops, some agricultural work may be deemed inappropriate for women, and women may be expected to undertake most of the domestic work in the home, giving them less time to participate in producer groups.
  • Fairtrade says that increasing the participation of women farmers could boost productivity, improve development outcomes for communities and provide opportunities to launch new products such as the ‘Grown By Women‘ range marketed by Equal Exchange.
  • A female banana producer in the Dominican Republic said that enabling women to become members of producer organisations is important because “it gives women the right to vote, to participate in decision making, to receive benefits and to live with dignity.” A male cotton producer in India said that women should be supported to take up leadership positions because “women are more disciplined and organised and will run these institutions better, whereas men fight amongst themselves and let egos come in the way.” 

Read more on Supply Chain Digital

Retailers told to step up

  • The retail industry is not doing enough to “clean up its act” with suppliers, the UK’s supply chain body has warned alongside a new survey highlighting the damage that bullying tactics are having on the sector’s reputation.
  • Figures from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) out today revealed that 88 per cent of supply chain managers think supplier bullying is giving procurement a bad name. Nearly half (49 per cent) of respondents cited“pay to stay” charges as the worst bullying tactic being used to squeeze suppliers, while 35 per cent gave late payments or long payment terms as the worst example of malpractice.
  • David Noble, CIPS group chief executive, said: “It’s time the industry sat up and took notice.”

Read more at City A.M.

Saudi Arabia world’s biggest, Turkey 9th defense importer

  • Saudi Arabia passed India to become the world’s biggest arms importer last year whileTurkey was the ninth country, as concerns about Iran’s ambitions have increased tensions in the Middle East.
  • India was the second-biggest arms importer in 2014, followed by China, the UAE, Taiwan, Australia, South Korea, Indonesia and Turkey. Saudi spending rose 54 per cent to $6.5 billion last year, while India imported $5.8 billion, according to data released Sunday by IHS, a leading analyst of the global arms trade. Imports will increase 52 per cent to $9.8 billion this year, accounting for $1 of every $7 spent globally, IHS estimated, based on planned deliveries.
  • “This is definitely unprecedented,” said Ben Moores, the report’s author. “You’re seeing political fractures across the region, and at the same time you’ve got oil, which allows countries to arm themselves, protect themselves and impose their will as to how they think the region should develop.”

Read more at Todays Zaman

Clogged transit costs billions, highlights supply chain weaknesses

  • Both government and private research agree: America’s freight system is under serious pressure, and supply chains are particularly vulnerable to the strain.
  • Over the next two decades, 45 per cent more freight will move over America’s already crowded roads, rails, seas and skies, according to the Department of Transportation, which recently released a white paper, Beyond Traffic 2045. The report highlights the need to ease congestion and warns that without a solution, companies are wasting significant funds on their procurement operations.
  • Nike, the DoT found, spends an extra $4 million every week and carries up to two extra weeks of inventory to cover anticipated shipping delays.
  • But these delays impact more than just the procurers of these goods stuck in gridlock… Research shows that technology and innovation will be paramount in smoothing out the congested supply chains across the U.S., and throughout the globe. But findings also show that players in the supply chain are using highly outdated technology, if any at all, to make the procurement process more efficient.

Read more at Pymnts.com

The next generation of location aware supply chain applications

  • It has long been possible to build a geofence and detect when an inbound carrier was 20 miles out from a warehouse.  But warehouse managers, and transportation planners are busy.  What good would those notifications do?  These managers and planners don’t have time to look at every carrier notification and examine whether that truck will hit their dock on schedule.
  • Supply chain planning applications have long been in-memory applications.  This is a fancy way of saying that these applications were based on technologies that allowed them to solve very big problems very quickly. But now there is a new generation of in-memory computing.  That means the problems we can solve quickly are getting bigger and bigger.
  • JDA is an example of one supply chain software firm looking to utilize the new generation of in-memory computing to build larger supply chain models spanning planning and execution. Today a company with advanced logistics capabilities would have a warehouse management system (WMS), a dock scheduling and yard management solution, and a transportation management system (TMS) in order to improve their logistics capabilities. Both WMS and TMS have good business cases associated with them.  But these applications are laser focused on their own domains.
  • JDA is beginning to build JDA Intelligent Fulfillment, a set of logistics planning and execution solutions that understand constraints that cross warehousing, the yard, and transportation.

Read more at Logistics Viewpoints

International Women’s Day: it’s time to tackle career stereotypes

It’s time to tackle career stereotypes and get more women to enter ‘male professions’.

International Women's Day

The lack of women in typically male professions like engineering is being highlighted ahead of this weekend’s International Women’s Day (Sunday 8 March). Currently, just six per cent of engineers are female, one of the lowest percentages in Europe. And women are also under represented in occupations such as science, graphic design and broadcasting*.

The next president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Naomi Climer, believes that International Women’s Day is a good time to draw attention to the problem.

Naomi says: “When I started in engineering I was very against events or quotas to highlight the lack of women in business.  However, 20 or 30 years on, the number of female engineers remains worryingly low, despite the best efforts of all kinds of different organisations.

“Increasing the number of women in engineering and science isn’t simply a feminist issue – there is a compelling business case for it too. There simply aren’t enough engineers to meet expected demand over the next decade. So the time has come to create a step change. Otherwise we risk many more years of seeing women excluded from creative, rewarding, interesting and challenging careers in certain sectors.

“Diversity can be a very emotive issue and it is proving hard to shift subconscious social attitudes, stereotypes, and ingrained habits in schools and companies. Diversity needs to be on everyone’s agenda, not just women’s, and will only be achieved when we all have a better understanding of the unconscious bias that we have as individuals, employers and collectively as a nation. 

“Put simply, good practice that creates a level playing field for women is also generally good for everyone. We will all benefit from measures such as flexible working, better pay and a more inclusive culture. 

“But if we have roughly 50 per cent of the population who do equally well in school and university at technical subjects, who appear to join engineering in much larger numbers in some other countries, but we’re only getting about 6 per cent into the engineering workforce in the UK – something is undeniably going wrong.”

*Not just for boys campaign, Department of Work & Pensions

Elsewhere, Google’s Women in Search initiative (which will begin next week) will highlight those women who are making a difference within the field, and highlight to other women that this is a field they should be aware of as a potential career path. Visit this page for more information.

What is procurement like in your country? Next stop – Ukraine

Procurement expert, former CPO and current Procurement consultant, Elena Kononenko, talks about the profession in her home country of Ukraine.

What is procurement like in the Ukraine?

How do you think procurement differs in your country, as opposed to elsewhere in the world?

Up until April 2013, procurement in the Ukraine was mainly focused on reverse auctions (which were used poorly, causing lost savings), RFP/RFQ techniques and local tender procedures, with little or no e-procurement. Procurement professionals rarely shared their experiences and the profession was closed off.

This only changed following the I Procurement Forum in March 2013 and after the launch of the Ukrainian Association of Procurement Professionals. E-auctions were opened up, achieving savings, and procurement professionals had the opportunity to expand their networks and share their experience and knowledge.

Procurement is still a passive function in most organisations and tends to be reactive, based on requests from other functions. It doesn’t play a strategic role in the organisation and strategic tools like category management, strategic sourcing and outsourcing are rarely used.

Fewer than 10 per cent of organisations co-operate with the three PO providers there are and only 5-10 per cent use an automated system for e-procurement. There aren’t any companies whose procurement process is fully automated.

The current trend in procurement is to focus on more modern, specific techniques in the areas of vendor selection, sourcing spend management, e-procurement and contract and inventory management.

Do you know how many other procurement professionals are in your country?

A few hundred, I suppose. Maybe 200-300.

In terms of accreditation,there is a lack of certified procurement professionals in Ukraine due to the lack of knowledge about CIPS and ISM. Only around 1 per cent of procurement specialists and CPOs know about these institutes, their certification and its advantages.

How did you get started in procurement?

Absolutely by chance! I decided to try something new and sent my CV to Metro Cash & Carry and got a job as a Purchasing Manager’s Assistant. After that, I went back to work for the World Bank, firstly as a Financial Manager, then as Procurement Manager for one of Bank’s projects in Ukraine.

What do you see in procurement’s future in your country and how can social media play a role?

The future of procurement in the Ukraine depends on a few things:

  • Education and continuous professional development of procurement professionals
  • Strong external and internal PR campaign showing procurement as a strategic function
  • Changes in senior managers’ attitude to procurement
  • Progress on advanced development opportunities for the profession

Social media can help by providing a platform for peers in different countries to connect, share positive experiences and success stories. It can also be a source of knowledge on the latest best practice, instruments and soft skills and act as a global supplier database.

Why did you join Procurious?

Procurious fulfilled a few key things for me. It allows me to communicate with colleagues and peers from around the globe, find new sources of knowledge and understand what I have to learn and improve to build successful international career in procurement.

What are you hoping to get out of the network?

Everything that’s mentioned above and more!

How are you going to get your peers involved?

I’ll be getting them involved by putting links across my social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) and inviting them to join.

Moving on up: the ascendency of the Chief Procurement Officer

Big CPO moves in both Myer and Honda

It’s been a big few weeks for the ascendency of the CPO. Since Procurious ran this post discussing Tim Cook’s rise through the supply chain ranks to the top job at Apple, we have seen two more procurement professionals ascend to top position at major businesses.

Honda

Last week saw the Honda Motor Company promote Takahiro Hachigo to its top role. Hachigo joined Honda in 1982 initially working in research and development He became a manager of a purchasing division in 2008 and in 2013 was promoted to the role of representative of development – purchasing and production (China).

His promotion, which came a surprise to many, comes off the back of a number of challenging years for the automaker. Ito Tankanobu is leaving the post of CEO after having guiding the company through the financial crisis, the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that wreaked havoc on supply chains across the island nation, an extended period of unfavourable exchange rates and more recently concerns over product quality of airbags used in the company’s vehicles.

Despite news agency Reuters labelling Hachigo a ‘low profile engineer’ the new CEO was hand picked by the outgoing boss, has 32 years experience at the automaker and has risen through company ranks holding executive roles in the US, Europe and China.

Myer’s stocktake

The Second major announcement for procurement professionals with aspirations of holding their company’s top job is the recent appointment of Richard Umbers to top role at leading Australian retailer Myer.

Umbers replaces Bernie Brookes as the company’s CEO after holding the position of chief information and supply chain officer for the retailer. The new CEO has also held senior roles with supermarket chains Aldi, Woolworths and at Australia Post.

Analysts have questioned the timing of the announcement, which comes just three weeks before the company is set to release its half-yearly results. Myer has not listed profit forecasts ahead of the announcement, but neither has it corrected analyst’s predictions of an $89 million profit, a significant decline from the figures the firm recorded in 2014.

Investors too, seem to be a little spooked with the new appointment with the company’s share price dropping 10 per cent on Monday with news of the leadership reshuffle.

The appointment of Umbers (not a traditional retailer), suggests an intention from Myer to clean up its internal operations. It’s thought that as the retailer received a more 70 per cent upturn in traffic to its online store last year it’s possible that the company’s future lies in the way it integrates technology, back office process and distribution to support a shopping model that will be based increasingly online – an area that Umbers has significant experience in.

Procurious wishes both former Procurement bosses all the best in their new roles.

How Generation Y is shaking up retail and digital marketing

It is expected that by 2026 the main consumers of luxury will be millennials (or generation Y). This is notable for two reasons… The ways in which we consume digital content is steadily changing, and our newfound reliance on social networks will also have a profound effect on our shopping habits.

Some Millennials, tomorrow.
Some millennials, tomorrow.

This is a guest blog post from fashion entrepreneur Daniela Cecilio, Founder and CEO of ASAP54 (and previously of Farfetch.com).

It’s a well known fact that the world’s population is ageing , but what are the consequences from a marketing point of view for brands and consumers? The teenagers and young adults of today, often referred to as millennials, are expected to be brands’ center of attention in the near future. While at the moment their contribution to brands’ profits is small, they will soon increase their consumption capabilities as they will have their own families and reach senior and managerial positions professionally.

By 2026, the main consumers of luxury goods are predicted to be digital natives i.e. people born between 1980 and 2000 who’ve had technology penetrate every aspect of their lives from a young age. .

The main challenge here for brands will be to understand and adapt to this generation. Luxury companies are known to be reluctant to develop their online presence as it is often seen in the business as harming the image of exclusivity – but these companies might not have a choice anymore.

Shopping codes and references are evolving, being deeply linked to digital innovations: the path-to-purchase is getting more complicated and dense as the number of potential touch-points increases with new social and technological innovation. Social media is playing a bigger role in people’s lives, with consumers expecting to be able to interact with brands in the same way, whether online or offline.

The consequence of a missed interaction can be devastating for brands, as word of mouth coupled with the speed of the Internet is enough to spread negative perceptions and sentiments.

With 1 billion active users on video platform Youtube and 420 million users on blogging and image-sharing platform Tumblr, for example, brands cannot stick to traditional touch-points anymore and are forced to leave their comfort zones and to experiment – often for the best.

By teaming with social platforms, brands are creating immersive shopping experiences, enabling shoppers to discover and buy products at any time, anywhere. This ‘World Wide Window shopping’ concept is pushing messaging in a seamless way, taking digital strategies beyond the retailers’ websites. The American clothing brand Gap recently developed its own Instagram micro-series with a Valentine’s Day hook to showcase its line of jeans in a new and more integrated format, while luxury brand Burberry is now seen as a digital leader, being one of the first to live stream its fashion shows.

That being said, 2015 should be all about mobile apps, which were the biggest growth area in the mobile world in 2014. Internet shopping via computers and laptops dropped from 78 to 63 per cent last year, whereas smartphone and tablet shopping nearly doubled; from 8 to 15 per cent and 5 to 10 per cent respectively.

In the near future, I expect to see a significant development in integrated shopping experiences, as the number of users of visual social channels such as Instagram is consistently growing. Recently, we chose to integrate a new update within our visual recognition-based fashion app ASAP54, allowing users to access all their Instagram photos as well as all pictures they liked on the platform, to use within the service without having to switch platforms. I wonder then, what could be next? 

Receiving too many notifications? Show your inbox who’s boss!

Show your inbox who's boss

We’ve had a few emails from Procurious members asking how to better tailor email notifications to suit their preferences. Take control back and customise the notifications you see by following our quick tips.

We provide you with the option (by default) to be notified whenever a fellow Procurious member invites you to connect, accepts your invitation to connect, or sends you a message.

Obviously you are free to silence some or all of these as you please, and it only takes a second to put the changes into action…

How to turn your notifications on or off

To do this look towards your Procurious header bar and open the drop-down menu under your profile picture/name. From here click ‘Settings’.

Scroll down until you locate your ‘Email Notifications’ (they’re right below the ‘Change Password’ area).

Procurious notifications

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Read more about our weekly newsletters here.

Accenture acquire Brazilian supply analytics firm Gapso

Accenture acquire Brazilian supply analytics firm Gapso

Management consultancy Accenture, announced last week it had acquired the Brazilian supply chain analytics firm Gapso. The merger will see the Brazilian firm’s operations integrated into Accenture’s Analytics division.

Analysts have suggested the decision by Accenture to purchase Gapso will benefit the firm in two ways. The first is that it will provide a solid foothold for the company in the rapidly growing Brazilian market, allowing the firm to explore opportunities in the region’s lucrative mining, oil and gas and agricultural sectors.

As well as opening up Latin American markets, the purchase of Gapso also points to the future of supply chain management and Accenture’s role within it. Gapso specialises in using data and advanced analytics to solve complex supply chain and logistics challenges. Accenture’s purchase of Gapso sees the firm acquiring a team of skilled data scientists, analysts and developers, suggesting the consultancy is keen to explore different approaches to supply chain management.

This position is strengthened further when you consider that less than 12 months ago Accenture acquired i4C Analytics, an Italian provider of advanced analytics software programs.

Rodolfo Eschenbach Accenture’s Digital lead in Latin America, said: “Accenture are happy to be extending its analytics reach in Brazil through the acquisition of Gapso.”

“By combining Accenture’s and Gapso’s broad analytics skills and capabilities, Brazilian companies in the natural resources and agribusiness industries will have access to the best data scientist talent and solutions in the market for driving real, data-driven, operations outcomes at scale. When businesses harness, optimise and analyse their data for insight, value in the form of improved productivity or a competitive advantage can be realised,” he said.

Oscar Porto Gapso’s Business Director, was quoted saying: “Over the past twelve years, Gapso has curated an impressive team of analytics experts and capabilities that enable faster and better outcomes in connection with a client’s most critical logistics issues.

“By joining Accenture, we will be able to build on our achievements and engage in a more powerful, broader-scope of analytics conversations with clients. I’m proud of the Gapso team and I am looking forward to taking our methodologies further and continuing to disrupt the resources and agribusiness industries through insight-enabled decision-making.”

Robotics in the supply chain will enhance humans, not replace them

The mind of the machine

Could automation actually lead to humans enhancing their skills, and ultimately enable them to perform their job functions better?

Could robots replace humans in the supply chain?

Discover how Jon Gibson (Head of Logistics at global supply chain consultancy Crimson & Co) believes the growth of robotics and automation in the supply chain will actually enhance the role humans play, not replace them.

Recently, the government announced its intentions to be at the forefront of driverless technology following the approval of a new code of practice, which will be launched in the spring allowing for testing of autonomous cars. While supporters have been quick to champion the benefits of driverless technology, in terms of road safety, emissions and congestion, there are notable concerns, particularly the knock-on effects for the British supply chain industry.

Last year, a report by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) underlined the importance of strengthening the British supply chain industry, which could potentially add a further £30bn to the British economy. A key factor within this report focused on addressing the skills shortage which exists amongst British supply chain firms, notably the need for greater STEM graduates inducted into the industry.

In light of an industry skills shortage and the growth of robotics, there have been suggestions that this could be the beginning of the end for humans across supply chains, but Gibson does not believe this to be the case:  

“If removing humans is about driving up productivity through standardising processes, improving design and sharing components across different products, it could be argued that this has always been the case in the supply chain industry. When looking particularly at the emergence of driverless cars, yes, it will mean changes to the industry but to suggest this is the start of a new era in which humans will be rendered effectively useless across the supply chain is very wide of the mark.

“Essentially, the introduction of robotics can do two things – firstly, it can replace humans. Secondly, it can make them do their jobs better. Examples of where humans might be replaced could be for tasks that require greater accuracy, such as precision cutting, or in instances where there is a need to process vast amounts of data. Processes like these are traditionally very labour intensive, so from a budgetary perspective it’s understandable why organisations pursue this route. It can also improve safety while reducing the chance of human operating error, risk of thefts, as well as the need to address wage inflation.

“What is often misunderstood is how robotics can assist humans in doing their jobs better – barcode scanning for example, reduces human error, providing huge cost savings to a business. In reality, organisations automate their supply chain to improve cost efficiencies. This might be to address issues with skills and labour shortages or align budgets – it is not always at the expense of people.”

Gibson continues: “Ultimately, we are likely to see an evolution of roles and responsibilities. For instance, machinery will need to be maintained and this could result in retraining and reskilling staff to do this. Also, in the event of an error occurring during the production line, humans need to be on hand to address this. As we get better at analysing operational effectiveness it will become clear that organisations will need to strive for a balance between automation and human involvement across their supply chain – there is no one size fits all.” 

The UK High Street – terminal decline or natural change?

Another traditional high street store has announced store closures due to falling revenues and profits – is this the latest step in the terminal decline of the UK high street?

Is the UK high street in decline? Thorntons in the news

UK chocolate retailer Thorntons has reported a fall in revenues for the six months to January 2015 of 8 per cent to £128.2m. This comes hot on the heels of the pre-Christmas profit warning issued by the company and the closure of just under half of its stores.

Thorntons has suffered from falling sales and unprofitable stores for a couple of years and made the decision to move more of its sales to other outlets and retailers. This move has since been compounded by the announcement of the loss of shelf space at two major UK supermarkets.

High-profile casualties

Thorntons are far from alone. According to a report issued by PwC, there was an average of 16 shop closures per day in the UK in 2014. Coupled with a reduction in the number of new shops opening, this is leaving many high streets full of empty units.

In the past year alone, a large number of high-profile names have either been forced to close high street stores or have collapsed entirely. Phones4U and La Senza both collapsed last year, while 2015 has already claimed its first big victims in Bank, USC and Austin Reed (all fashion retailers) and Radio Shack in the US.

Why is this happening?

For many, the main cause is seen as the out of town retail parks, complete with free parking and everything in one place. However, even these shops aren’t immune to the changing environment.

The Office of National Statistics retail statistics have shown an average 12 per cent increase on online sales to the same period the previous year throughout 2014.

Many organisations have failed to keep up with the pace of the digital economy. Poorly designed shops with unclear offerings, poor customer service and unsuccessful marketing just don’t cut it against the convenience of shopping online and having everything delivered to your door.

Organisational Benefits

It’s not just the consumers who are benefiting either. There are major positives for organisations and supply chains for having an online operation. Not having to run a high street store means reduced overhead costs and monthly outgoings and the ability to be located in low-rent areas.

With fewer staff required, the goods or services can be offered at a lower cost, as companies require less mark-up to make a profit. Stock can also be ordered in bulk, further reducing costs, while at the same time ensuring that there is sufficient stock to cover customer orders.

Hope for the Future?

All is not lost though. Many consumers still want shops that they can visit and often, the convenience of online shopping is outweighed by the risk of not getting what they want first time, or not being able to see what it is they are buying.

It is widely felt that organisations that successfully merge the two worlds of digital and physical shopping can help to save the high street. For example, the John Lewis Group now offers ‘click-and-collect’ to any of their department stores or Waitrose supermarkets for online orders.

Special offers can be sent to a smart phone when customers are in store, while augmented reality (think Google Glass) can be used to show you what a sofa would look like in your house. The companies who can tailor their offering best will be the ones who populate the high streets of the future.

So, terminal decline? Probably not. Natural state of change? Arguably yes. And it looks as though it will be for the better.

Read on for the other procurement and supply chain stories making the headlines.

MoD spent £33 million on ‘botched’ defence procurement outsourcing

  • The Ministry of Defence (MoD) must “sharpen up” its reform of procurement, after “throwing away” £33m on botched changes.
  • This follows a report from the National Audit Office (NAO), Reforming Defence Acquisition, which examined the MoD’s plans to improve the skills of Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) staff, its systems and the way it interacts with the armed forces.
  • The NAO concluded that improving the performance of DE&S remained the most challenging part of the department’s strategy, although progress has been made. “There is now a clearer separation of responsibilities between the commands, which request equipment, and DE&S as the organisation responsible for delivering the equipment,” the report said.
  • It also outlined how the department had spent two-and-a-half years and £33 million trying to implement its preferred option of a government-owned, contractor-operated (GoCo) model to reform DE&S, before it was deemed undeliverable and halted in 2013.

Read more at Supply Management 

Will a new UK law eradicate supply chain slavery?

  • Whether it is high street fashion, bedding from a department store or eggs from a supermarket, few British shoppers would stop to ask whether slave labour was involved in making their goods.
  • Yet forced labour often lurks along the supply chain as a product and its individual parts are manufactured, packaged and distributed in a process linking multiple suppliers in many different countries, business ethics experts say.
  • Globally, the International Labour Organisation estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labour. In Britain alone, the Home Office (interior ministry) says up to 13,000 people are forced into manual labour, sold for sex in brothels, or kept in domestic servitude, among other forms of slavery.
  • A government-backed draft law aims to tackle exploitation by requiring businesses in Britain to disclose what action they have taken to ensure their supply chains are slavery free.
  • The clause will provide guidance to companies about the kind of information they could disclose. However, the Home Office said firms will not be told what must be included, and that it expects disclosures to differ from company to company.

Read more at Reuters

SLG’s SCOR expert recognized for supply chain leadership

  • Satellite Logistics Group (SLG), a leading supply-chain solution provider for the beverage industry, announced today that Dan Swartwood, the company’s vice president of process and technology, has been named one ofSupply & Demand Chain Executive magazine’s 2015 Pros to Know.
  • The annual Pros to Know Awards recognize select supply chain executives who have helped their clients, companies, or the supply chain community at large to prepare for the significant challenges in the year ahead.
  • “This honor highlights the many thought-leaders who are helping to shape the Supply Chain industry and advance Supply Chain as a respected discipline in the enterprise,” said Barry Hochfelder, editor of Supply & Demand Chain Executive. “Their efforts in developing the tools, processes and knowledge base necessary for Supply Chain transformation, and in promoting new approaches to supply chain enablement, have earned them a place on this year’s Pros listing.”
  • Swartwood has guided a number of U.S. and international companies in various industries through the methodologies and has seen the results firsthand. On average, opportunities for improvement equate to two to six per cent of revenue.

Read more at PR Newswire

Apple under scrutiny in Labor’s tax loophole crackdown proposal

  • Large international tech companies operating in Australia such as Apple and Google could come under increased fire over their local tax treatment under a new proposal by the federal Labor Party to clamp down on loopholes.
  • In what Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen described as an “opening salvo in the battle of ideas”, Labor’s first major policy announcement in opposition is to introduce a range of measures to stop billions of dollars of tax from bleeding offshore.
  • “This announcement today sets a blueprint for Labor’s approach in office,” Bowen told reporters in Canberra on Monday. The federal opposition’s tax package, which has been costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office, is worth AU$1.9 billion over four years in additional revenue.
  • It includes tightening of the so-called “thin capitalisation” rules, which allow companies to offset profits against debt servicing costs in high-tax jurisdictions such as Australia to reduce their taxable income.

Read more at ZDNet

Drones still useful in supply chains despite FAA regulations

  • Last week the Federal Aviation Administration published its rules and regulations for the oversight of drone usage within the United States. Many will and have argued that these rules are too restrictive for companies such as Amazon or Google to truly take advantage of the technology. The basic parameters of the guidelines set by the FAA:
    • Drones must be less than 55 lbs in weight
    • Can only fly during the day in good weather
    • Must not fly close to airports
    • Cannot fly faster than 100mph
    • And must be within visible site of the operatorLast week the Federal Aviation Administration published its rules and regulations for the oversight of drone usage within the United States. Many will and have argued that these rules are too restrictive for companies such as Amazon or Google to truly take advantage of the technology. The basic parameters of the guidelines set by the FAA:
    • On the surface these restrictions severely limit the dreams of the likes of Jeff Bezos. One of the great opportunities for drones within the supply chain and particularly with the delivery side is the ability to enhance the last mile portion. The last mile is always a challenge since you have to break down the orders to the individual level. Drones seem to offer an affordable and flexible solution – but not if the FAA rules are in place. This does not mean there are not some use cases that supply chains can take advantage of immediately:
    • These include: Asset monitoring and remote delivery… read more over at ZDnet