Australian companies use supply chain expertise from US and Europe
The globalisation of Australia’s retail industry, particularly amongst its supermarket chains is forcing firms to rethink how they manage their supply chain processes.
Frans Verheij, director at global supply chain consultancy Crimson & Co, has suggested this is increasing demand for greater consultation from Europe and the US, as Australia looks to step change its skills and capabilities, in order to drive greater efficiencies and competitiveness across its supply chain networks.
Historically, Australia has been dominated by brands Woolworths and Coles – the move by German discount chain Aldi into Australia was seen as a game changer for the industry. In doing so it has forced the other brands to cull their product range to cut costs and rethink how to remain relevant for the Australian consumer against these new rivals.
According to Verheij, the globalisation and heightened competition amongst retail sectors in Europe and the US provide a wealth of knowledge for Australian firms to learn from and apply across their own supply chains. The adoption of some of these learnings will prove critical in increasing their supply chain effectiveness, allowing them to remain competitive:
“The Australian supermarket industry is arguably seeing real competition for the first time. Woolworths and Coles have held a duopoly for several decades but the arrival of Aldi fundamentally changed this giving rise to a selection of new competitors with rival discount chain Lidl and Costco also entering the region.
“In light of this new players are forcing older incumbents to rethink their strategies and drive down unnecessary and excessive costs across their supply chain. The fallout from this has created a unique demand for great supply chain consultation. Those organisations are looking to invest in this through training and education, but are also actively looking for knowledge from outside their local markets.”
Verheij continued: “The US and European retail sectors are heavily competitive, especially when it comes to supermarkets. If you look at the UK, Aldi and Lidl have had a huge presence there for a number of years and is increasingly breaking up the hold of the big four (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons). The availability of quality fresh produce at a significantly lower price has been critical in driving demand amongst consumers. As a result, the big four have had to act accordingly by reducing costs amongst their produce. Central to this has been the need for great efficiencies across the supply chains and this is just one lesson Australian retailers are learning with recent spring fresh produce hitting the shelves at prices not seen in years.
“The impact of this is opening up opportunities for supply chain professionals and consultants to come into the region and apply their skills and knowledge in order to show where savings for these retailers can be made. Critically, those professionals coming into the region will need to quickly get to grips with the unique geography, scale, infrastructure and concentrated population of Australia. The market is very different to the US and Europe and it will be imperative that anyone coming in is able to adapt their skill set accordingly.
“Typically, those skills will look to address issues across the end-to-end supply chain such as procurement, advanced planning, inventory management, transport optimisation and many more. For those companies looking to leverage knowledge from Europe and the US, the opportunity to entice people to Australia is very appealing.
“Crimson & Co ANZ has recently relocated several overseas team members and blended these with our existing local supply chain team in Sydney and Melbourne. For overseas supply chain professionals moving to Australia is very popular as it provides a great working experience, lifestyle and good salaries in a strong economy with un-employment rates not seen overseas. It’s a win-win really as those in the supermarket industry can leverage their skills, knowledge and training to stay ahead in what is becoming an increasingly competitive market,” Verheij added.
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.