Original Article

An investigation in purchasing practices of small F&B operators

Published in:
Volume 4, issue 1&2, 2014 , pages: 29–37
DOI: 10.2989/RHM.2014.4.1&2.5.1251
Author(s): Michel AltanAcademy of Hospitality and Facility Management, NHTV Breda, The Netherlands, Christine Demen-MeierEcole Hôtelière de Lausanne, Le Chalet-à-Gobet, Switzerland


The food and beverage (F&B) purchasing function is operating in a rapidly changing environment, whereby professionalisation
and efficiency become key. This paper aims to identify generic skills that are most important for small F&B operators when it
comes down to purchasing and supply management. Factors facilitating as well as hindering purchasing maturity are discussed.
The focus lies on six single-site independent restaurants in the UK, supported by the presentation of the findings from in-depth
interviews with the owners or managers. In this methodological context, the skills of buyers in small F&B operations are
described through a 7-dimensional conceptual framework including: procurement planning, the structural organisation of the
purchasing function, the process organisation, human resource systems, controlling structures, relations with supplier and finally
sustainability. The study of these activities provides clear insights into the purchasing function developed by F&B operators,
paving the way to the development of maturity grids outlining families of skills required in this specific sector of activity. Such
tools can help operators developing a structured purchasing function in order to improve efficiency of processes as well as the
evaluation of-and relationship with suppliers.

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