Procurement needs to be involved in innovation from the inception of products, one of Lego’s top buyers has said.

By the time a new product has come to market, it is too late for procurement to make an impact on innovative processes, said Emma Freiha, senior sourcing manager at Lego. At this point customers are ready to receive the products, marketing initiatives have been finalised and deals with suppliers signed, so it’s difficult for procurement to even do its basic function of finding savings.

“The basic role of procurement is very hard to put in place because you’ve already lost the opportunity,” she said.

Speaking at the eWorld Procurement and Supply conference, Freiha said procurement has been at the heart of the toymaker’s plans to find sustainable alternatives to its plastic bricks. The firm aims to move away from plastic completely by 2030, and recently released its first plastic-alternative product. At Lego, procurement sits on the cross functional core team working towards its sustainability goals. “This is actually a revolution for Lego,” said Freiha, who added that procurement had not previously been a big part of innovation.

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