Dairy Crest

Dairy Crest

Dairy Crest engaged State of Flux to support a Competency Assessment and Development Planning Project for its group procurement team. This covered 17 staff members, including the Procurement Director. 

The project, which has contributed to a step-change in the function’s business performance and credibility, recently won the people development category at the prestigious Procurement Leaders Awards 2012.

Dairy Crest is the UK’s leading chilled dairy foods company. It has a turnover of £1.6bn and a range of leading dairy brands, including the award-winning Cathedral City, Country Life and Frijj. It supplies milk to major retailers and to one million UK households every day. 

The company operates in a tough, low margin trading environment, amid constant pressures from commodity volatility and retailers’ desire to be cost competitive.


Over a three year period, Dairy Crest’s group procurement function had made significant progress in moving away from a purely tactical role and instilling greater professionalism. Its Procurement Director, Trevor Reay, was keen to move to the next level and develop a high performing, value-adding team capable of engaging strategically with the business in line with corporate objectives and industry best practice.


The first step was to better understand the skills of each team member and how the team overall compared to 'best in class' functions of a similar size. State of Flux worked closely with Dairy Crest to design and run a skills assessment process based around the company’s seven procurement and leadership competencies. Components included:
  • Online individual self-assessments
  • Case studies for each individual aligned to both their role and the competency framework
  • Structured case study interviews including participation of the CFO
  • Analysis and validation of the online self-assessments and case studies
Detailed reports were prepared on each individual, showing how they scored against Dairy Crest’s competency framework and highlighting skills gaps and development opportunities.
State of Flux then facilitated a workshop with the procurement leadership team to review the findings of the competency assessment programme and to prioritise actions for ongoing development of the function.


Outputs from the Competency Assessment and Development Planning Project include standardised assessment reports for all team members, set against a best practice framework with development plans for the next 12 months. These have become reference documents for ongoing personal development plan (PDP) discussions.
In addition, Dairy Crest has an online assessment survey that can be used to benchmark staff on an annual basis against a clear baseline.
Since embarking on its award-wining people development initiative, the group procurement team has recorded some impressive results. These include:
  • Delivered a 25% stretch target in cost reduction from the original January 2011 baseline
  • Increased staff retention levels to above 95%
  • Attracted candidates from major blue-chip companies, including Coca-Cola, British Airways, HJ Heinz and Rolls-Royce
  • Improved employee engagement scores from 54% to 85%
The function has gained credibility at all levels within Dairy Crest, and now presents every month to the company’s corporate board on its performance, development plans and key projects.
And the approach it has taken to people development is held up by HR as 'an example to be shared' and learnt from by others in the business.
In the words of Dairy Crest’s CFO, “Group procurement has been transformed. They make a real difference to the success of the company. Investment in their people is clearly evident and is one of their key attributes.”
Contact us on +44 (0)2078 420 600 or email us at enquiries@stateofflux.co.uk for more information on our competency assessment and people development services.