Companies use spending power to boost economy

A campaign to boost the economy in the north-east through driving procurement with local businesses was the subject of a breakfast event in Aberdeen yesterday.

Chaired by Bob Keiller, business adviser at AB15 and chairman of Scottish Enterprise, the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) event at the Marriot in Dyce on the Buy North East campaign revealed how companies were using their purchasing power to help businesses struggling with the effects of the oil and gas downturn.

Willie MacLean, chief executive of Aberdeen facilities management and engineering firm Richard Irvin Energy Solutions, said over 80% of the company’s spend was with supply chain companies in the north-east – worth almost £40million a year.

The company, which has a history stretching back 145 years, is also working on the challenges to overcoming reasons why other local organisations might not be buying from them.

Mr MacLean said: “It is just about getting out there to your target market. Go and visit them. Knock on their doors. Tell them what you do. Be a pain. People don’t have the time sometimes to go searching for a supplier.

“That is what we are trying to do and it is working.”

Peter Hutchinson, customer service director at ferry company, Serco NorthLink, said his firm spends £2.7million around its ports in Aberdeen, Orkney and Shetland.

Mr Hutchinson has pioneered local sourcing in the wider Serco Group, a FTSE 250 outsourcing giant that also recently won the franchise to run the Caledonian Sleeper service – which has also committed to sourcing goods and services on the train from Scotland.

Companies the ferry group buys from include Caber Coffee, Deeside Water and social enterprise manufacturer Glencraft, which supplies the ferries with 446 mattresses.

“In the bid we put together was a commitment to buy locally. What we are doing with Buy North East fits into our strategy,” said Mr Hutchinson.

Russell Borthwick, chief executive of AGCC, revealed that more than 450 businesses have signed up to the Buy North East Roll of Honour.

“The concept of the campaign was to get it on the agenda, to say to businesses let’s start thinking about it.

“We have got that underway. Ideally we would like to get to the point where it doesn’t need a campaign and is just the way we think.” Join the Buy North East Roll of Honour.