In praise of supply chain professionals

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It’s a real privilege – and an education – to sit on one of the judging panels for the European Supply Chain Excellence Awards and experience the passion and expertise of the professionals who come and present to us.

The calibre of the entries this year was exemplary, and the award winners, revealed at the Hilton on London’s Park Lane last week, deserve all our praise.

The awards judging process also offers an opportunity to understand how supply chain professionals are responding to a business environment where change has become an increasingly critical factor.

In recent years that change has been driven by globalisation. There is no doubt that this has produced substantial benefits to consumers in Europe over the past few years, with prices for many goods falling in real terms.

But, change is on the agenda again. Despite the volatility in the world economy, the success of globalisation is resulting in rising wages in the Far East as well as rising global commodity prices.

And the impact is now so apparent, that even the national press is starting to pick up on it.

Only last month, the “Financial Times” reported that UK manufacturers are looking to “near-shore” – bring manufacturing back into Europe.

In fact, a recent survey suggested that more than half of UK manufacturers expect to increase domestic sourcing over the next few years. And it’s not just the cost issue that is driving this – it is also the opportunity to simplify supply chains.

But “near-shoring” is not a “no-brainer” – assessing all the variable makes choosing the most appropriate strategy an increasingly complex task.

Perhaps we will see evidence of how organisations are responding to this in the entries for the European Supply Chain Excellence Awards next year.

In the meantime, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate all the winners of the 2011 awards – particularly the overall winner, BASF, and the individual contribution winner, Alan Waller.


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