At the British Chamber of Commerce’s annual conference, Phil Wilbraham, Heathrow’s Development Director, declared “We’ll need more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from the Northern Powerhouse in Heathrow’s supply chain to deliver an expanded Heathrow”.
With strengths in complex manufacturing, science and innovation, SMEs in the Northern Powerhouse are seen to be absolutely integral to Heathrow’s ability to produce an expanded hub airport for the UK on time and on budget.
SME involvement in Heathrow’s supply chain is thriving. Currently, almost half of Heathrow’s Tier 1 suppliers are SMEs, in comparison to just over a third three years ago. Heathrow is now looking to actively engage even more SMEs at all levels of the supply chain, with the launch of Business Summits in Manchester and Leeds following a successful trial with Business Summit North last year.
SMEs undoubtedly play a key role in Heathrow’s supply chain and their role will grow alongside the airport’s expansion. The airport spends over £1.5 billion annually with over 1,200 suppliers from around the UK.
Phil Wilbraham said, “SMEs are the backbone of the British economy and have played an indispensable role in helping us transform Heathrow into a world-class airport Britain can be proud of.”
Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Policy Director, Chris Fletcher, corresponded with this comment, stating, “This is proof that major organisations have real openings to work and trade with other businesses irrespective of their size or location. The UK economy can only get stronger by all businesses taking advantage of such opportunities and we encourage as many companies as possible to get involved.”
Heathrow makes a significant contribution to UK Plc, an illustration of this is the economic value that was created with the construction of Terminal 2: The Queen’s Terminal, opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in June 2014.
The project created 34,000 jobs in infrastructure, engineering and construction across the country.
Heathrow used a vast amount of suppliers from across the UK to deliver the £2.5 billion infrastructure project. Many of the suppliers used were SMEs. For example, the structural steelwork for the roof of Terminal 2 was made by firms in both Lancashire and Yorkshire. The contract was worth £40 million and Severfield and Watson said that the contract safeguarded jobs at both their plants and generated additional work. Therefore, the investment being made by Heathrow is undoubtedly making a genuine difference to businesses around the UK.
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