Chief Procurement Officer Simon Potter lifts the lid on what is happening on the strategic procurement front at Inchcape Shipping Services, including our new global Ship Chandling solution now in place in a dozen global hub ports and ready for rollout elsewhere later this year and in 2023.
Focus on cost optimisation
“Procurement-as-a-service is all about saving money, providing a great service and mitigating supply chain risk. We optimise costs through strategic sourcing and vendor partnerships. Our buying power as a global network means we can secure better prices and volume discounts. We also mitigate risk through vendor assessments and vetting,” says Potter.
With an operational footprint in over 60 countries and informed dialogue with customers, Inchcape can identify areas for process improvement and share knowledge and learning. “We help customers buy smarter, manage sustainability while reducing HSE and financial risk,” he continues.
Global chandling expands reach
Inchcape’s new Ship Chandling solution is an extension of this focus. “We already drive significant value in the supply chain for everything from towage and hotels to taxis and launches, and the chandling solution simply extends this value proposition to new areas of supply. Our strategy is to provide global solutions, supporting our local teams with the best tools to be the best providers at the best value. By in-sourcing we gain more control and can offer fixed pricing across many ports.”
Inchcape has set up chandling operations in Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA), Singapore, Fujairah, Houston, Algeciras, Gibraltar, Piraeus, Port Said, Panama, Milford Haven and more locations will come later in the year and throughout 2023. “We’ve already seen big successes across the phase 1 ports as our customers learn how easy it is to do business with us.”
By in-sourcing we gain more control and can offer fixed pricing across many ports.Simon Potter, Chief Procurement Officer
‘Single point of entry’
Customers don’t have to use Inchcape as an agent in a given port to use the service. Inchcape coordinates with the local agent from ordering to physical delivery. The big customer benefit is a single point of entry into Inchcape’s global system, with one email address and high quality of service.
Another key pillar is Inchcape’s constantly growing mass of data on the global supply of provisions and consumables. “Most customers want to find synergies but don’t have sufficient data to be able to benchmark quality and pricing. Our team can provide that, tailored for each customer.”
Inchcape’s ESG goal is to be a responsible business and trustworthy partner for customers. “Our strategy is to capture efficiencies in the supply chains that we manage for customers, while providing data points to help them meet their own targets by tracking carbon footprint and emissions per customer and across many service categories per port, worldwide.”
Apart from its agency operations, Inchcape’s five key services with the highest carbon impact are towage, hotels, taxis, launches and waste management. “We can use our hotel data, for example, to track the average CO2 footprint of every crew member stay. Small efficiency gains such as offering electric taxis doesn’t compromise competitive advantage, it actually helps to reduce operating costs. We will also be adding chandling and logistics CO2 tracking. Part of our strategy is to minimize the number of vehicles going to ships, saving emissions while again reducing OPEX.”
We are the first company to have signed up to IMPA Act 2.0, which is a key global-level tool to help the industry become more sustainable and transparent.Simon Potter, Chief Procurement Officer
Leveraging people power
Inchcape’s trademark is delivering services with a human touch. “Our procurement power lies in the people we have centrally and on the ground with huge local knowledge, which is a big benefit for customers who don’t want to send RFQs [requests for quotes] every time they make a port call.”
Potter has been steadily expanding Inchcape’s global Procurement and Supply Chain teams, which now number 26 both at its procurement Centre of Excellence in Mumbai and regional offices. “They comprise marine logistics experts and CIPS professionals whose combined market insight is unmatched.”
He adds that the marine industry is in desperate need of disruption and change. “I am glad to say that at Inchcape, procurement is highly valued as a function and driver of change, but for many maritime companies it is still seen as a transactional department that often doesn’t have a seat at the decision-making table. Other industries are already seeing the true value procurement teams can deliver, and I hope the maritime sector continues to close the gap.”
IMPA Act 2.0 a driving force for sustainability
Potter’s voluntary role on the International Marine Purchasing Association (IMPA) Council is helping to formulate strategy for the entire industry. “We are the first company to have signed up to IMPA Act 2.0, which is a key global-level tool to help the industry become more sustainable and transparent. The challenge is to help as many stakeholders as possible on the path to net zero, and IMPA does a fantastic job in bringing ship owners and managers together with the supply base. We see it as our responsibility to drive the right behaviours, and are very proud to be part of this important initiative.”
Benchmarking vendors and products
IMPA Act 2.0 also addresses data sharing within the industry. “Everyone stands to lose if there are big ESG risks within supply chain. At Inchcape we want to benchmark the ESG credentials of our suppliers and the average carbon footprint of products they produce, and share that proof of value (POV) through IMPA Act 2.0. The more companies that sign up to IMPA Act 2.0, the more we can assess and mitigate risks.”
‘Accidental’ path into procurement
Potter studied tourism and environmental management at university – marine procurement was not on his radar. “In 2002 I got an opportunity to work for a ship chandler in Rotterdam, enjoyed it and later moved to the owner’s side at Maersk, leading procurement for 60 vessels. I moved back to the UK in 2012 as Procurement Manager for DFDS, then became Head of Procurement at P&O Ferries. Joining Inchcape six years ago brought me full circle back to the supply side.”
He really enjoys working in the “niche but very diverse” marine industry. “No two days are the same and you’re exposed to many cultures. At Inchcape we have robust backing of our new owners and an exciting M&A programme, while working alongside all our competent people is inspiring in itself.”