01 February 2001 | Cathy Hayward
A pioneering scheme to persuade large companies in Sheffield to increase their local buying could become a national initiative if it is successful.
Twenty small and medium-sized enterprises, including landscape gardeners and caretaker services, have signed up for the recently launched approved supplier scheme (APSS). The scheme, run by Sheffield, Humberside and Mid-Yorkshire Chambers of Commerce, is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
It aims to attract 200 companies by the end of the year and could be rolled out to other metropolitan chambers next year.
In addition, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has given the scheme its stamp of approval and is encouraging similar initiatives by its other metropolitan members.
"Although we are not aware of the scheme's details and it is not under the auspices of the BCC, we welcome initiatives of this kind and would encourage its extension nationwide," a BCC spokesman told SM.
Peter Howarth, chairman of CIPS's local government committee, added that the scheme is likely to be endorsed by the institute.
The pilot followed feedback from the chambers' small business members who believed ISO 9001 and other quality assurance schemes were not relevant to their businesses.
"The approved supplier scheme will help SMEs to improve their businesses in areas such as health and safety and environmental management, allowing them to be better suppliers to large organisations and hopefully improve their sales," said Andrew Denniff of the services team at the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce. "It will give buyers in large businesses the confidence to procure from local suppliers."
Local bodies with large purchasing budgets including Sheffield NHS Trust, Sheffield City Council and South Yorkshire Police have expressed interest. The scheme is accredited by Zurich International.