Balfour Beatty is on course to hit a target of channelling £1 billion of construction spend through SMEs by the end of the year.
Martin Chown, supply chain director at Balfour Beatty, told an event the firm had spent £458 million with SMEs in the first half of the year and he was “confident we are going to get the £1 billion spend with SMEs in 2014”.
Speaking at a MSDUK policy summit on inclusive procurement at the House of Lords, Chown said Balfour Beatty was the “largest company in the UK in terms of contributing to the government’s SME target”.
Chown said they started a programme to boost SME engagement a year ago and tracking spend, board level commitment and building momentum were critical factors in increasing SME participation. “We are by no means at the end of the journey but we have made some progress,” he said.
In 2013 the firm had a total construction spend of £1.6 billion in the UK, of which £750 million was with SMEs. Some £38 million of spend, or 2 per cent, was with women-owned businesses. “We’re looking at how we can build that,” said Chown.
He said it was important that efforts to increase SME participation were incorporated into company policies, strategies and action plans. “In a large company you have to have that or you won’t get traction,” he said.
In terms of working with ethnic minority-owned businesses, Chown said challenges included getting data assurance for minority-owned businesses and capturing spend with them beyond tier one of the supply chain.