It goes without saying that purchasing is vital for a retailer such as HEMA. Every single day we have to be sure we have the right range of products at the right price in the many hundreds of HEMA stores in all the countries we operate in. Market changes have been radical in recent years, influenced by the poor economic conditions. New formulas, fiercer price competition, and the absolute necessity to source more from outside Europe, are all placing heavier demands on our buyers. HEMA has some seventy purchasing professionals, who combine their purchasing duties with product development.

The circumstances I mentioned called for a renewed focus on purchasing in order to improve HEMA’s bottom-line profit. We were supported by Solvint, which came out best in a ‘beauty contest’ of four bureaus. We can now confirm that we made the right choice. For us, the further professionalization of purchasing at HEMA means improving the qualities of the buyers. Solvint’s approach is one-to-one coaching on the job. Our people are given state-of-the-art tools and techniques for strategic sourcing, including a systematic sourcing methodology, which they put into practice immediately. The process occurs in successive waves in which a substantial number of HEMA products are newly marketed. The HEMA buyers are personally supported by Solvint staff. The threshold has been kept low thanks to Solvint’s sourcing desk inside HEMA, where every buyer can walk in with any purchasing question they may have. The results so far have exceeded our expectations: the products we have newly sourced are being purchased at a far lower price.

My aim is for our buyers to be best in class. We are well on the way, but investment in purchasing professionalism remains necessary. We have now started a strategic project together with Solvint for reorganizing the chain for several products. What stands out about Solvint’s approach? The know-how, the hands-on attitude, and passion. Solvint people have personal experience of purchasing and have a grasp of processes and purchasing markets. They also have enormous commitment to achieving firm results.