Current Study: Austrian Companies Find No Buyers

Vienna/Düsseldorf, July 3, 2012 – About two-thirds of Austrian companies need more than eight months to fill the vacant positions of purchasing managers. One fifth of them needs four to six months. However, 31 percent are of the opinion that external applicants frequently do not meet professional requirements. Nonetheless: Not even 20 percent of the interviewed companies have an internal successor at the ready for strategic positions in purchasing. That's the result of a study in which 175 companies were interviewed and which had been conducted by the personnel consultancy Penning Consulting, the purchasing specialists from Kerkhoff Consulting and the Forum Einkauf (Purchasing Forum) of the Österreichische Produktivitäts- und Wirtschaftlichkeits-Zentrum (ÖPWZ – Austrian Center for Productivity and Profitability).

"The results are devastating", says Stephan Penning, Managing Partner of Penning Consulting. "Austrian companies reveal striking gaps in the recruitment of new purchasing staff. Although it takes very long to fill a vacancy and although applicants frequently do not have suitable qualifications, the companies do not develop any successors internally. In an unfavorable situation, an entire department can thus be crippled for months.“

The recruitment of a strategic buyer also takes longer than eight months in 56 percent of the companies. Even where trade buyers (56 percent) and clerks (57 percent) are concerned, the majority of companies is unable – according to their own information – to fill such vacant positions within eight months. A quarter of the interviewed companies is successful, at least, in hiring clerks within two months.

"The figures collected clearly show that far too little has been invested in the training of buyers in recent years“, says Gundula Jäger, Managing Director of Kerkhoff Consulting Austria. "The situation continues that there are hardly any universities in Europe providing special training for purchasing and supply chain specialists. At the same time, that's exactly the type of people required for the ever more complex international supply chains. This now results in a tight personnel situation.“

Despite the long periods required to fill vacancies, many companies in Austria continue to rely on classical recruitment channels. Particularly striking: Print media (77 percent of the interviewed companies) continue to be more frequently used than on-line media (about 60 percent). "This information is surprising because according to current studies, the Internet is the most important recruitment channel", says Stephan Penning. "Companies thus miss out especially on the high-caliber group of young high potentials.“

Many companies actually do post their vacancies internally (70 percent); but only two-fifths of those interviewed rely on employee recommendations. "Good buyers frequently know other good buyers", says Gundula Jäger. "Accordingly, this possibility of finding or obtaining personnel is used by far too few companies to quickly fill vacancies.“

Also, less than half the Austrian companies use external consulting (49 percent). Stephan Penning: "Nonetheless, personnel consultants are used on average seven percent more frequently for filling vacancies in the purchasing area than for filling other positions. But: For many personnel consultants and head hunters, the market of buyers and supply chain managers is very new. They don't have sufficiently strong networks yet, to act as a fire brigade fighting fires when an important position is to be filled at short notice.“

About the Study

The interview was electronically conducted by the personnel consultancy Penning Consulting, the purchasing consultancy Kerkhoff Consulting and the Forum Einkauf of the Österreichische Produktivitäts- und Wirtschaftlichkeits-Zentrum (ÖPWZ). A total of 175 Austrian companies from all sectors of the industry participated in the study. Additional information on the study can be obtained from Mr. Christian Pfeiffer, +49 211 62 180 61 148, c.pfeiffer@kerkhoff-consulting.com.

About Penning Consulting

Penning Consulting is a consultancy with its key areas being human resource management and executive search. Our strength is to ideally combine great expertise in these special fields with in-depth experience in the industrial sector. Objective of our consulting services always remains the further strategic development of employee portfolios: from management audits or the implementation of HR instruments via development programs all the way to recruitments.

As an HR consultancy, we concentrate on large and medium-sized companies and aim at long-term partnerships on the basis of trust. We are always oriented on our clients' specific corporate culture and their objectives. On that basis, we successfully develop executive staff strategies. Our consultants have many years of experience in personnel consulting and are oriented on the highest quality standards in the industry.

About Kerkhoff Consulting

Kerkhoff Consulting is the quality leader of consultancies for purchasing and supply chain management. In 2011 and 2010, Wirtschaftswoche conferred to Kerkhoff Consulting the award "Best of Consulting“ in the category of supply chain management. In 2009, Kerkhoff Consulting was awarded the title of "Hidden Champion of the Consulting Market“ by the trade journal CAPITAL. Until now, no other consultancy for purchasing and supply chain management had been awarded all three titles.

The consultancy has its headquarters in Düsseldorf and is represented worldwide in nine countries. Its Austrian branch establishment is in Vienna. Kerkhoff Consulting provides consultancy work primarily for clients from small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as for major groups and public authorities. Projects of Kerkhoff Consulting are characterized by their high orientation towards implementation: The work of their consultants does not end with the presentation of a concept but only when this has been completely implemented at the client.

The Kerkhoff Competence Center of Supply Chain Management (KCC) at the Chair for Logistics Management of the University of St. Gallen brings together theory and practice in purchasing and supply chain management.

About the Forum Einkauf of the ÖPWZ

The Forum Einkauf is Austria's leading network for purchasing and supply management and offers a wide range of services for career advancement – and that already since 1961. The Forum provides experts and executives with a suitable platform for interdisciplinary dialogs. Forum motto for all members: Informing – Communicating – Profiting.

The Forum Einkauf is part of the Österreichische Produktivitäts- und Wirtschaftlichkeits-Zentrum (ÖPWZ). The ÖPWZ stands for over 60 years of excellent educational quality and innovation in training and continuing education, as well as the technical and personal qualification of executives and employees.

The ÖPWZ offers its customers innovative knowledge as well as the goal-oriented exchange of experience in seminars, academies, training courses, conferences, events and expert forums. Studies and publications round up the offer.

Media Contact

Kerkhoff Consulting GmbH

Tel.: +49 (0)211 / 62 180 61- 0


Kerkhoff Consulting GmbH – +49 211 6218061-0 – Elisabethstr. 5 – 40217 Dusseldorf - Germany
Kerkhoff Consulting GmbH – +43 153 2272941 – Wallnerstr. 3 – 1010 Vienna - Austria