Good market conditions all round for procurement professionals

Recruitment activity remained strong despite the summer holidays

Is there a skills shortage in procurement?

This time last year we reported a noticeable improvement in job market conditions for the procurement profession and associated areas including SRM, P2P and e Sourcing. As regular readers of this analysis will know, we have observed positive trends in both the interim and procurement markets throughout this year.

Furthermore we have evidence from senior HR figures that procurement departments have more success gaining approval for new recruits than other functions in organisations with head count restrictions. This is undoubtedly due to the benefits that strategic procurement brings to major organisations and the recognition of this at board level.

Category & Sector Trends

Salaries for Marketing category specialists appear to have stabilised. This is an area that has traditionally had a premium on category expertise in the last 10-15 years but has been quiet throughout the economic difficulties of the last 2-3 years and this does appear to have impacted upon salaries.

The demand for IT category expertise continues to grow and we are seeing some shortages for strong candidates with expertise in telecoms and software.  We anticipate some salary growth in this area in the next 6 months.

Expertise in the classic areas of indirect spend remain in strong demand and we’ve been particularly active sourcing candidates with deep category knowledge in Marketing, HR, CapEx, Facilities & Property. Basic salaries for Category Lead roles can vary from £40k to £85k depending on regional and industry variations.

The FMCG sector is particularly busy with our specialist Hannah Jackson constantly sourcing the best talent in the sector. As usual the key category areas are ingredients, raw materials and packaging but we have also seen an increase in demand for new product development and logistics focused roles.

The Consulting sector, often a useful barometer for the health of the market, is very active in both strategic transformation projects and the more savings delivery orientated engagements leading to a healthy recruitment market which is up by 17% in the last 12 months based on our activity in the sector.

As mentioned earlier this year the gradual recovery in the interim market continues and there is noticeably less interim resource available currently.   Upward pressure on day rates is growing as a result and we envisage 2012 will see a strong interim market.

Candidates unable to gain roles on a day rate basis have the option to consider fixed term contracts which have become increasingly popular in the past 12 months as they represent a cost effective method to employ temporary staff for those organisations with head count issues.

Skills Shortage?

We have commented in the past about a scarcity of strong candidates in certain key areas of the profession.  Interestingly Supply Management have recently published an article looking at the findings of a survey by Accenture and focus on the question of whether a talent shortage exists.  Supply Management – Talent shortage

The Accenture report raises a range of interesting points impacting upon the profession and covers there findings on the subject of attracting and retaining the best talent.  In their survey Accenture report that only 41% of the most advanced procurement departments have a formal career opportunity programme to help attract, retain and develop their best people.  This figure falls to 5% in organisations where procurement isn’t as well established. The full Accenture report can be read here

Our view remains that there is real competition for the very best procurement talent and these are the key areas that even the leading functions can find it hard to identify the skills and experience they need:

Ambitious graduates with 2-5 years experience in procurement. Basic salaries range from £25k to £40k at this level.

Category Managers with highly valued transferable skills, stakeholder engagement usually being top of the list for most hiring managers.

Experienced functional leaders who can demonstrate a track record of delivering a step change in procurement’s capability and influence across large corporate organisations

P2P & e Sourcing specialists with experience in driving greater compliance and developing systems which require greater use of recent technology

Experienced candidates with the ability to adapt to different corporate structures and reporting lines e.g. matrix based environments present particular challenges

What are we doing to address this for our clients?

We work closely with key clients to help them refine how they can improve their recruitment processes and improve their ability to attract the people they need.

We advise on prevailing market conditions for every relevant niche area we operate in enabling clients to understand the availability and cost of the skills they need at any given time.

Chris McGowan is specifically responsible for identifying the very best of the emerging talent in the profession and closely monitors the progress of those on the leading graduate schemes.  We know which organisations have a track record of producing the procurement leaders of the future.

Andrew Daley maintains regular contact with a wide range of experienced leaders with experience as Procurement Directors and equivalent.

Hannah Jackson continues to work exclusively in the FMCG sector and has an outstanding network of professionals with both industry sector expertise and relevant transferable skills from associated areas.

The team works together closely to enhance our ability to find the best talent at all levels, particularly in areas well suited to transferable skills like Category Management and Vendor Management.

Through our extensive networking and advanced research techniques, each of our team is constantly striving to identify strong candidates in the less obvious areas missed by other recruiters.


The permanent market is in a healthy state with opportunities available at all levels from graduate to CPO in the last quarter whilst the interim market is edging towards full capacity again resulting in some improvement in day rates.

As the market continues to improve we believe the existing issues around skills shortages in key areas will only be exacerbated as demand grows, particularly at middle management level whilst the growth in supply is clearly constrained.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of the points raised here, or how to identify the talent you need for your team, please contact Andrew Daley on 0161 776 4603 or via

If you are looking for a new role please contact Chris McGowan or David Ryan

Anyone wishing to discuss opportunities in the FMCG sector should contact Hannah Jackson on 0161 776 4608 or via