Explore: Food production

Retail Buyer
Gibsons Food

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Peter S

00:00:02 Because we make sandwiches here obviously we’ve got to build sandwiches up so you’ll have bread, lettuce, tomato, chicken, proteins, packaging but they need to come into the factory so what I do is I have to come up with buying the goods in, trying to negotiate the terms and conditions of the contracts so the best price, quality and delivery.

00:00:30 When I was 14 I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do. All I know is I wanted to work in an office because all my family worked in an office and I felt like, well, that’s the thing I must do as well. To be honest, I did want to be a pilot in the RAF, that was the main thing I wanted to do but I couldn’t do that because me eyesight was poor so I said, “Well, I’ll stick with trying to be an office worker in an office somewhere.”

00:00:54 I did a degree at Sheffield Polytechnic, a business degree. I did train to be an accountant, I did six months in a company in Liverpool as a trainee accountant but I found that very boring and I found the accountant’s exams quite difficult as well. So, then I decided well, I’ll try and be salesman. I thought that would be good for me, a salesman on the road, company car. I went for quite a few interviews but I didn’t seem to break into sales. I don’t think I’ve got the commercial, outgoing nature they want in someone. And then I got a job at GC Marconi who had like a graduate six months training programme. We were making torpedoes for the Ministry of Defence and each torpedo is broken down into different sections and all these different sections were worth about a million quid each and it was quite a lot of responsibility. What you do is you buy the goods in, as simple as that but there’s quite a lot of work involved. I was quite good at doing that. I was sort of chucked in the deep end at 22, given on the job training for about a week and then I sort of understudied while someone else was doing that job and they sort of taught me what to do on the way.

00:02:06 All I wanted to do was earn a lot of money, get a responsible job and take it from there but it ticked all the boxes in terms of responsibility but in terms of the money it wasn’t paying me that much so what I decided to do then was I looked around for another job and Sharps Manufacturing in Wrexham, they were recruiting for a buyer. And they were producing photocopiers, TVs, microwaves etc. They were still at their production line in Wrexham so my brief basically was to go around Europe sourcing all the components from Europe.

00:02:42 I did that for a couple of years and I got itchy feet because I got a bit bored doing the same rigmarole so I decided to look around locally and handy enough there was a company called Champion Sparkplugs and they were recruiting for a senior buyer so it was like a step up as well. Well, I’d been at Champions for eight years and I wanted to get into a managing position and I could see that wasn’t going to happen and McCain Foods were recruiting for a group purchasing manager so I went for the interview, got the job.

00:03:11 At the time I thought, “Well, food industry, give it a couple of years and see what it was like,” but I seemed to do quite well at it, really, because I’ve been doing it for 12 years. I’ve moved within the industry and I’ve moved quite a few jobs and, again, moved up in the world sort of thing.

00:03:27 When I worked in the automotive and the car industry, there’s quite a lot of hours in that job. The food industry is not as pressurised as the automotive industry so I said at the moment I’ve got a good work to life balance, coming in at quarter past eight, going home at half past five, quarter to six, not too bad. And I like playing golf. I’m a member of a golf club locally so wherever I try to play golf in summer. I’d love to be an airline pilot or an RAF pilot or something to do with flying planes because it’s a big passion of mine, really. ENDS


Peter S is a Buyer at Gibsons Foods. He found his career by trial and error. After graduating he tried accountancy and sales but they didn’t suit him. He tried being a buyer and enjoyed it. He changed employers a few times to move to better jobs.

More information about Buyers and procurement officers

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

43%  male 
57%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Buyers and procurement officers organise and undertake the buying of raw materials, equipment and merchandise from manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and other sources for wholesale distribution, resale or for own internal use.
There are no formal academic requirements although some employers expect A levels/H grades, BTEC/SQA awards or degrees. Employers may ask for specific experience for a particular role. Professional qualifications and NVQs/SVQs in Procurement at Levels 2, 3 and 4 are available.
  • Attends trade fairs, shows and demonstrations to research new product lines and suppliers, checks catalogues;
  • Keeps up with market trends and chooses products/services;
  • Assesses budgetary limitations and customer requirements and decides on quantity, type, range and quality of goods or services to be bought;
  • Assesses bids from suppliers, finds suppliers and negotiates prices;
  • Helps negotiate contract with supplier and specifies details of goods or services required;
  • Looks at ways to improve supply networks, presents new ideas to senior management team;
  • Ensures that delivered items comply with order, monitors quality of incoming goods and returns unsatisfactory or faulty items, monitors performance and makes sure targets are met;
  • Supervises clerical, administrative and warehouse distribution staff, deals with recruitment and training;
  • Works closely with merchandisers who allocate stock and develop sales forecasts;
  • Maintains records and prepares reports as necessary.
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