Cumbria Business Growth Hub set up the Supply Chain Gateway to help local businesses win contracts with large organisations, private and public.

Smaller firms sometimes find the procurement processes of large organisations complex or bureaucratic and they may be required to attain accreditations or achieve certified quality standards.

The Gateway offers online resources to overcome these obstacles, plus access to advisers, funding, and training and networking opportunities. Much of this support is free to eligible SMEs.

Last year the Growth Hub launched the Supply Chain Opportunity Club to bring would-be suppliers face-to-face with buyers.

The Club now has a growing membership of more than 200 businesses.

Its latest meeting in Penrith this week allowed members to meet the buying team from construction firm ENGIE.

ENGIE has secured contracts with the social housing provider Home Group and is building in Penrith, Cleator Moor and Sedbergh, and at two sites in Carlisle.

The businesses attending included Ashcroft, a construction, demolition and plant company based at Flimby.

Mike James, Future Projects and Marketing Manager at Ashcroft, said: “We’ve worked with Home Group before and we came to find out more about ENGIE and ensure we’re on their tender list.

“We’ve spoken to their people and told them what we can do. They are keen to send us information. It’s all very positive.”
ENGIE’S Operations Manager, Alan Holt, emphasised that the company was looking to engage local sub-contractors.

He said: “We need to understand what they can deliver for us, their capabilities and their track record. This event was about starting a dialogue between them and us.”

The Supply Chain Opportunity Club has previously run meet-the-buyer events with supermarket Booths and TSP Engineering in Workington.

Its next meeting, on Tuesday April 16th, is at tyre manufacturer Pirelli in Carlisle. SMEs can find out how to become an approved supplier, get one-to-one sessions with Pirelli’s buying team and tour the Dalston Road site.

Pirelli wants to meet engineering and construction companies, and firms able to provide pipe fitters, machinery movers and installers, fabricators, painters and decorators, racking, flooring systems, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the lead partner in the Growth Hub, said: “We set up the Supply Chain Opportunity Club to help SMEs seize the opportunities we knew were out there.

“The Club delivers timely and relevant advice, and we’re starting to see results as contract wins from earlier events begin to come through.”

To register your interest in the Pirelli event, or find out more about the Supply Chain Opportunity Club, email eva@cumbriachamber.co.uk