Suppliers and buyers unite for Diamond event

Gatwick Diamond Meet the Buyers sponsors David Butcher, Gatwick Diamond Initiative, Lionel Barnard from West Sussex County Council; Francis Maude MP, Bob Lanzer leader of Crawley Borough Council and Tom Crowley chief executive of Horsham District Council
Gatwick Diamond Meet the Buyers sponsors David Butcher, Gatwick Diamond Initiative, Lionel Barnard from West Sussex County Council; Francis Maude MP, Bob Lanzer leader of Crawley Borough Council and Tom Crowley chief executive of Horsham District Council

More than 150 companies came together for this year’s Gatwick Diamond Initiative Meet the Buyers event held in Crawley last week.

Last Thursday 120 suppliers from 92 companies across Sussex and Surrey turned out to meet procurement managers from 35 companies from a range of disciplines including aviation, catering, construction, and engineering.

With significant levels of new contracts on offer, the event highlighted the opportunities for businesses of all sizes to become part of a larger supply chain for companies including Balfour Beatty Group, Gatwick Airport Limited and new-to-the-region, Nestlé UK.

Cabinet Office minister and Horsham MP Francis Maude kicked off the day at the launch breakfast by assuring businesses he was worked to cut the bureaucracy and red tape which stop effective trade between the public and private sectors.

The UK’s bidding process takes twice as long than in France or Germany and extensive pre-qualification questionnaires needed for every local authority bid put off many SMEs from applying for them.

He said: “SMEs are innovative, flexible and often offer better value for money, yet it can be hard for smaller companies to get their foot through the door.

“That’s why events like today’s Gatwick Diamond ‘Meet the Buyers’ event are so important; they give SMEs a chance to make informal connections with buyers, find out about emerging opportunities and pitch ideas.

“We have held similar events in government since 2010 and last month launched a new online tool, Solutions Exchange, which allows SMEs to connect virtually with government buyers in a similar way. Successful SMEs are crucial to the future of this country and can save taxpayers’ money with innovative new ideas. The latest available data shows that as a result of the Government’s radical procurement reforms, the amount of Government business going to SMEs is on track to have doubled since 2010.”

Executive director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative Rosemary French said: “As a key sponsor of this event together with Gatwick Airport, Crawley Borough Council, Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council, we recognise the importance of encouraging procurement opportunities in these difficult economic times.

“We are thrilled to note new buyers’ participation and hope to build on the success of the event in previous years.”