Skanska has been working with scores of Kent firms as it prepares for a number of opportunities in the county, including a multi-million pound council property contract.
More than 150 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) attended two ‘meet the buyer’ events on Monday 25 February, supported by the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, and the Thanet and East Kent Chamber of Commerce.
Kent County Council is looking for companies to supply numerous services for its 600 properties across the county from May 2014, including everything from repairs and maintenance, reception, security, catering and cleaning. Skanska’s facilities management division carries out many extensive service-based contracts across the country covering healthcare, education, defence and municipal services, delivered through both private and public investment.
In Kent, Skanska employs over 200 local suppliers and subcontractors and in 2012 spent over £23 million in the local economy. It wants to build on its existing relationships with the Kent business community, so that it can use the best local sub-contractors to deliver services for local people.
The turnout at the two events exceeded all expectations, with potential suppliers queuing out the door to attend the breakfast event at the Kent Invicta offices in Ashford. And all seats were taken for the lunch event at the BayPoint Club, the new sports, fitness, business and leisure venue, based at the site of the former Pfizer social club next to Discovery Park.
David Foley Chamber Chief Executive, Thanet and East Kent Chamber of Commerce said:
“It is pleasing indeed to note Skanska’s sustained interest in working with companies of all sizes in Kent. With the notable exception of wind farms, far too often large companies have come to Kent, completed their project, collected their profits and departed without further trace. Skanska has consistently demonstrated its long-term commitment to sharing the benefits of its sizeable operations here with medium and small companies. This is good news for the local economy and good news for Kent workers and residents alike.”
Jon Chown, Operations Director for Skanska’s Facilities Management division, explained the reasons behind meeting with SMEs early. He said: "Engaging with potential suppliers early on creates a win-win situation for both parties, ensuring our tender offers the best solutions for our clients and the local economy.
“Although we are a national company we understand the importance of using local suppliers and businesses. Local sourcing provides improved value for money and helps sustain the local economy, employment and environment.
“It also gives our potential suppliers time to adapt and align with us – they have to demonstrate they are safe, green and ethical. This can be a challenge for some SMEs so we provide practical help to get the right accreditations.”
Positive feedback about Skanska’s support came from one of the companies attending the Thanet and East Kent Chamber of Commerce ‘meet the buyer’ event.
Philip Walton, of Kent Independent Security Ltd, said: “We wanted to get up to speed with sustainability and had been looking to get our ISO 14001 accreditation for a while. We were told about the Supply Chain Sustainability School, founded by Skanska, which is a free online resource. It has been very useful, user-friendly and confidential, so you can be honest in your responses.”
“We have been working through the online programme over the last couple of months, and as a result have changed many of our processes, and we are now about to be audited for our ISO14001. I would really recommend all SMEs to at least take a look at the online school."
At the events Dale Turner Head of Procurement - Strategic Sourcing for Skanska UK, quoted some key facts about its supply chain:“Skanska UK has 5,500 suppliers and sub-contractors, and 67% of these are SMEs, so you can see how important they are to our business. “