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Ingram poised to further streamline EMEA back-office functions

American broadliner Ingram Micro is set to move more processes to its service centre in Sofia as its pan-EMEA back office reshuffle continues, according to EMEA executive vice president Mark Snider. Ought to Snider, the firm has been streamlining processes in its warehouses for some time, but is now putting more of a focus on speeding up office functions, which will in turn put more demand on its services centre in Sofia, Bulgaria. The distributor has hired a "Lean" European director and in-country staff responsible for improving office efficiency. "We have this balancing act where, at the same time, we have implemented 'Lean' which allows us to go through the processes we have and streamline them. We do that in the warehouses… but we are doing that in the offices now – we have hired a Lean leader for Europe… and we have hired Lean people in different countries. The idea is the back office processes will become more concerned, because in a lot of distribution you have complex processes coming from vendors and from the customers and we tend to try to fit them as opposed to forcing all of them to fit us", said Snider. The total headcount at the Sofia centre, which provides back-office functions and standardised support across EMEA, has risen to more than 1,000 employees, a number which is likely to increase as the firm looks to streamline office functions across its EMEA territories.

"We have over 1,000 [people] now in Sofia. It works really well. There are some advantages to it, it is so close to the rest of Europe, it is inexpensive, it is a fast flight to get there or for them to come to European countries," Snider said. "It is less expensive than the local market and the advantages, as they do more of these back-end functions for Europe as time goes on, they start being able to streamline some of the processes that go there. They get better at doing these processes, so it is definitely part of the longer-term strategy to lay that out. What you can't do with automation, we find [do via] that group. We probably will grow the headcount in Sofia, but I think even more we are streamlining more functions at the same time."

In the past, consolidating in-country support functions across Europe has meant Ingram has had to lay off regional staff. In 2014, the firm announced a restructure process which saw its Sofia centre expand at the potential expense of jobs. Snider said that the firm is instead concentrating on ramping up headcount in areas such as cloud and commerce and fulfilment. "It seems to be so far that the roles evolve into more of these strategic roles so they are less administrative. There have been cuts here and there, but when you take a look at the overall population in some countries, they have morphed into [being] more strategic and coming more into the cloud area as that continues to grow. The commerce and fulfilment solution area is a real growing area for us, so that is growing as well from a headcount perspective", concludes Mark Snider (source: Channelnomics Europe).

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