Effective supply chain management is critical to customer care and improved corporate performance, Leslie Morrison, Invest Northern Ireland Chief Executive, said last night.

Speaking at the annual dinner of the Northern Ireland region of the Institute of Logistics and Transport In Belfast, Mr Morrison said efficient supply chain management “is an essential component contributing to the market value of a product and or service”.

“Invest NI aims to help existing companies grow faster by achieving and sustaining market value through a portfolio of practical support services including a focus on supply chain management through its Business Improvement Programmes.

“To prosper, even to sustain business, in today’s volatile, uncertain circumstances, the only realistic strategy is to focus on the creativity, ingenuity and enterprise of our people to create an economy that is more robust but also very flexible and dynamic.

“Our aim is to encourage and assist local companies to harness new technology and apply knowledge to products and services, not only in terms of IT but also in areas such as R&D, design, marketing, business processes and customer care. In short, innovation. “

Logistics companies in Northern Ireland are playing a pivotal role in helping local companies provide customers throughout the world with the quality services that they demand, he added.

“We have a good transport infrastructure, first class air, sea and land freight services and logistics operations that compare with the best in Europe. We can compete with the best. “

Raymond Beard, Institute of Logistics and Transport, Northern Ireland Chairman, said: " We at the Institute fully support the Invest NI Business Improvement programmes and feel that the competitive advantage required for Northern Ireland companies can be greatly enhanced through the training and development of transport and supply chain management and logistics education - allowing Northern Ireland companies to become and remain as major players on the global stage.”

Those present at the dinner, including institute members, invited guests and some of Northern Ireland’s leading business figures were briefed about the Institute’s future plans by Professor Alan Waller, Chairman of The Institute of Logistics and Transport, who said the organisation intends to continue building on its already strong focus on training and professional development.

Professor Waller also said: “Northern Ireland is recognised for its major contribution in the development of excellence in logistics, which is a key component in positioning local companies at the cutting edge of the global economy “

“Manufacturing needs to recognise the value of end to end supply chain thinking, the know-how of people, innovation, good training and the exploitation of ICT and not focus solely on manufacturing capability and transport solutions.” Professor Waller added."