The Big Interview with Lorraine Copes

“Variety is the spice of life, and the same applies to procurement!”

How did you get into procurement?

I studied a BSC in Logistics at Aston University, which specialised in business and supply chain management.

For my first role within the hospitality industry as a supply chain forecast analyst, I worked very closely with the two senior buyers, and the NPD manager for a company called Punch Supply Company – a supply chain management joint venture between the spirit group and punch pub company. It was whilst working here, that I peeped over the procurement fence.

I liked the look of the role and, more importantly, the balance of firefighting, and the big wins. When the company disbanded, I directly approached Elior contract caterer for a buyer role, and a role was created for me, the rest is history!

What success are you most proud of within your career to date?

I have two.

The first is having successfully set up both a local and international supply chain infrastructure to launch shake shack into the UK.

Communication, project management, supply chain management, and broad category/ international sourcing were all critical to a successful launch, of which we opened 100% on time and in full across the entire supply chain.

The launch of the first restaurant felt more like a birth, than a job, and it is still a brand that remains very close to my heart.

The second is within my current role, establishing a new procurement department within a long-established business.

I have created some fantastic supplier partnerships, and have taken the internal stakeholders (who had not previously worked with a procurement team!) on a journey which resulted in delivering significant commercial gains for the business.

What aspects of your role do you both love and find challenging?

There are several things I love about my role, but above all, I would have to say working with people.

My stakeholders are extremely diverse, spanning far and wide, including suppliers (across multiple product/service groups), operations, marketing, IT, HR, sommeliers, bar managers, chefs and quality assurance partners.

While diverse, the commonality is always committed towards the same goal.

I thrive on working with different people from different walks of life, each with different viewpoints yet always achieving the end goal despite those differences.

Arguably the most challenging things about my role, I actually also love.

The markets are becoming more volatile, with prices fluctuating, supplier shortage, and uncertainty, but all of these challenges push procurement professionals to think outside of the box and explore unconventional ways of delivering the best price, quality, and service.

Change in the landscape is a great thing for the evolution of procurement.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

Very varied. It can include supplier meetings, blind tastings, internal multi-stakeholder meetings, responding to emails, issue resolution, procurement team meetings and tenders.

Have you observed any trends within procurement recently?

As I have been within the procurement and supply chain field for 16 years, I find that the trends tend to swing in roundabouts.

The current feel of the marketplace, in my opinion, does feel very similar to 2007, when the recession hit. Uncertainty looms and with this, unfortunately, comes trying times for some products and services, especially for price stability.

I do think that supplier partnerships will become ever more important during this time, though, as well as the willingness to work collaboratively through difficult times.

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Diverse environments fuel growth and, so, to become a well-rounded and dynamic buyer, do not pigeonhole yourself into a sector, industry, company size or category.

Variety is the spice of life, and the same applies to procurement!

Procurement Heads‘ Big Interview Series features Procurement Professionals throughout London, Hampshire & Dorset, Surrey & Sussex, Berkshire, Oxfordshire & Wiltshire.

It’s an opportunity to shed some light on the specialist world of Procurement and those who work within it. If you’d like to feature in our next Big Interview, contact us at 01962 869838 or drop us an email:

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