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  • Writer's picturePeter Smith

WEDNESDAY 6TH OCTOBER 1999: Hooray! We're Good at Purchasing!

I contributed to a report on Financial Services purchasing that one of the big consultancies were putting together a few months ago on behalf of a French bank. I forgot all about it until today when I receive a copy. NatWest is ranked 2nd for overall purchasing effectiveness out of 17 large European and US financial services companies. I am not convinced the methodology is totally reliable, but it is a nice boost to our confidence and might be useful for defence purposes at some stage. I email Bernard Horn and Andrew Blessley (the Sales and Marketing Head of the Retail Bank, who seems to be coordinating the production of our defence document) to tell them.

Meet with Robin Kammish who has built a large and very successful purchasing consulting business (QPA) from nothing 4 years ago to 100 people now. Robin ran purchasing at Reckitt & Colman and Smith Kline Beecham before going into consulting, and I have met him a few times over the years- he does a very good "I'm just a simple Northerner" act, but really, he is very bright and knowledgeable about purchasing. He tells me I am positioning purchasing wrongly in terms of the role we could be playing in the defence process and that I'm not being pro-active enough. I enjoy meeting him because he knows his stuff and has excellent ideas, even if you run the risk of ending up with something of an inferiority complex- his confidence can be a little daunting at times.

Robin did some work with Clydesdale Bank when Fred Goodwin was in charge there. Fred is now at Royal Bank of Scotland, who are tipped to join the bidding. Robin describes Fred as "the person least like their name" he's ever met. You expect "Fred" to be a warm, friendly character, Robin says - this Fred is apparently incredibly sharp, ruthless and aggressive, but also a supporter of purchasing. Well, if Robin with his assertive personality thinks this guy is aggressive, then I'm enrolling in self defence classes now!

I have a quick drink after work with Jon Hughes, another purchasing consultant-cum­ academic. I have known him for years and almost joined his company once. Jon is great; like Robin, very smart, but unlike Robin manages to leave me feeling positive about things, as well as giving me some interesting thoughts about what we should be doing during (and perhaps after) the bid.

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