Simply put, the act of procuring raw materials and services, coupled with the robust distribution of a wide range of our bakery ingredients is a complicated process. We spoke to our Head of Supply Chain, Andrew Steele, about the crucial responsibilities of the Supply Chain and wider team and how they have enabled us to maintain a safe, secure and reliable supply chain through COVID-19.

The Art of Procurement

By definition, the process of procurement is built on the efficient management of 170 key suppliers, delivering over 850 raw materials, from over 30 countries worldwide. A wider 1,900-strong supplier base delivers our other goods and services and backed with further suppliers available through Bakels Group Purchasing, provides multi-layer security of supply. But, procurement means much more in our business – the sourcing of many sustainable goods enables us to drive our responsible-sourcing agenda, delivering benefits beyond our industry.

Has COVID-19 added further complexity to this link in the Supply Chain?

Procurement can experience a host of challenges aside from the influence of recent events, including poor crop, changing laws, industrial action and conflict, to name a few. While various elements of these challenges previously arose in isolated occasions, COVID-19 presented challenges of a global nature across numerous areas of the supply chain, all at once and far quicker than we had ever imagined.

We had very little time to secure extra raw materials from overseas, prior to countries closing borders. But, thanks to our robust Group purchasing pedigree, we were able to overcome these obstacles and maintain a strong and robust procurement of required goods.

Managing stock levels and disruption must have been challenging, how did you overcome this?

Our goal is always to make our entire supply chain robust to change, yet flexible when we need it to be, an agility which is crucial in effectively serving our customers.

Early on, it was clear additional raw materials and packaging stocks, coupled with an increased finished goods stock holding, would be key in maintaining secure supply to customers. Recent investment in our local Distribution Centre provides us with the space needed to serve existing business, but also respond to unusual circumstances posed by customers. Instances such as rapid demand for flour, packed in small bags suitable for domestic use, were successfully fulfilled, thanks to our production and storage capacity.

What lies ahead?

Deal or no deal, COVID-19 or no COVID-19, change will always happen. A ‘new normal’ will take some adjustment and new skills will need to be learned by international procurement teams, but for these teams this is nothing new. Fast and effective change management is a promise we make and like many businesses across the nation, will be crucial in minimising disruption moving forward.