The HRC team sat down with Lorraine Copes MCIPS, Head of Procurement at Corbin & King to talk about her experience with procurement in the restaurant industry, her advice for procurement professionals starting in the industry, the importance of buying schemes and what takeaways she wants visitors to take from her session on the Vision Stage at HRC. 

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about you and your background in procurement?

I am originally from Birmingham, and a self-certified foodie, who loves traveling and live music. I also regularly go to the gym to counteract my desire to eat out often! In 2017, I became MCIPs qualified, which is a globally recognised procurement standard, and I have had a career within procurement and supply chain for 19 years, of which 17 years has been spent within the hospitality sector.  My career to-date has been fairly diverse, working for a variety of leading brands including the Spirit Group (now Greene King), Elior, Shake Shack, TGI Fridays, Gordon Ramsay Restaurants and I am currently heading up the Procurement function at Corbin & King.

Lorraine Copes MCIPS CROP

Q: How do foresee Brexit affecting procurement within the restaurant industry?

There are several areas of the supply chain that I foresee major impacts, the most obvious being trade agreements and changes to tariffs. This remains a concern especially for the agricultural industry, as it may add complexity, and cost to export and import goods, which could affect availability. Only 50% of the food we consume in the UK is home grown, with far less on beverage, and non-food categories. With this in mind, if some suppliers are unable to weather the storm, we could also see more businesses going into administration, and limiting supplier choice.

Harvesting and the wider supply chain is already starting to see labour shortages, and if this does worsen, production could decline further, limiting availability. Currency volatility inevitability will also impact cost of goods across the board, and so in summary, price volatility and product availability are likely to be the two biggest impacts of Brexit.

Q: Do you have any advice for procurement professionals starting out in the industry?

Firstly, work on developing your soft skills, as much as you do advancing your technical skills, because being able to build and sustain effective working relationships with many different stakeholders is essential to becoming a successful buyer.

Secondly, ensure that you are clearly able to demonstrate the value driven by procurement beyond saving money, so think risk management, reputation protection, service and quality. They all have clear tangible returns to the business, which can be brand damaging if mismanaged. 

Q: What changes if any, would you make to procurement in the hospitality industry?

As an industry, I do think that we lag slightly behind some others by recognising procurement as a strategic function, and not just a tactical one.  I often attend events run by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, and very rarely is anyone in attendance from our sector, which I think is quite telling.

Things are definitely evolving forward at pace, being led by some of the big players, but I do know a few small to medium sized businesses, who shoe horn procurement into other function roles and responsibilities with the sole objective of asking for a better price.

I believe the turbulence that we are set to encounter as a result of Brexit is going to force a number of businesses to look more seriously at Procurement because at a time where rent, rates and labour continue to increase, operating costs are the only costs that you really can control if effectively managed.

Q: Can you tell us about the key points within procurement that you will be discussing on your panel discussion on the Vision Stage at HRC?

We will of course discuss Brexit, but also the power of supplier relationships, driving value versus savings, and cost mitigation outside of tendering

Q: What key takeaways do you want visitors to gain from attending your session at HRC?

Insightful discussion about Procurement, exploring different approaches, and really driving value within the businesses we work for.

Q: As a member of the HRC buyers’ club, could you tell us what the most important elements of the buyers’ club are to you as a procurement professional?

It is always a great thing to network and connect with individuals who share a profession and industry. It also makes for some interesting debate discussing industry challenges and opportunities, along with different ideas on ways of working.

Q: How important do you think buying schemes are within trade shows?

Buying schemes can certainly help with time management, as in the past I have spent hours at trade shows, and walk away only achieving half of what I had intended to.

Buying schemes guarantee that you will meet the suppliers you want to see, at a designated time and place.

 Q: Are there any products you are specifically looking to source at HRC?

Nothing specifically, but I especially love being able to explore new and innovative suppliers in the market.

You can listen to Lorraine on her session on the Vision Stage at HRC - full timetable to be announced soon!