Pharmaceutical company Glaxo SmithKline is to review its online procurement procedure, which has been heavily criticised by specialist M&E contractors.
Kevin Thomas, Glaxo's worldwide strategic planning manager, refused to be drawn on whether the company would continue with online trials. He said: "After the trials are evaluated a decision will be made on whether or not there is a place for online bidding in the future at Glaxo."

Thomas is understood to favour a move away from lowest-cost competitive tendering as a procurement strategy. While he was at Glaxo Wellcome, Thomas introduced a more partnering-style procurement system before the 2000 merger with SmithKline.

Thomas is believed to be working to extend supply-chain integration across the whole group.

Details emerged about the Glaxo trials after the company used online auctioning for mechanical and electrical services on a fit-out project in Harlow, Essex. The main contractor for the site was Bovis Lend Lease.

M&E contractors claimed that the pilot system, in which companies must place tender bids within a set time, runs counter to Egan principles.

Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association legal adviser Rod Pettigrew said it welcomed the news that Glaxo would review the system.

After the trials are evaluated a decision will be made on whether or not there is a place for online bidding at Glaxo

Glaxo planning manager Kevin Thomas

He said: "This type of process is inappropriate to selecting M&E contractors." The HVCA, which has been highly critical of the initiative, is monitoring the situation.

Robert Stewart, director of M&E contractor Maxwell Stewart, said his firm would not be tendering for work using the system and that many other specialists felt the same.

He said many specialists in the field would think twice about bidding after the strong stand taken against the scheme by the HVCA.

It also emerged last month that construction internet portal Asite had the tools to implement Glaxo-style "reversed auction bidding".

But Alistair Mellon, Asite managing director, said the firm was not promoting the bidding system. He said: "Short-term reverse auctioning of widgets or services, or for that matter aggregated buying, has a corrosive effect on complex design-led supply chains.