Open Forum urges UK suppliers to do more to seek out opportunities

21 March 2013 #SMMT News

UK-based supplier companies at every level of the supply chain must do more to seek out new opportunities, ensuring that they do what they can to target new OEM contacts and promote their company as a key business prospect.

This was the overall message delivered in the final speaker session at today’s SMMT Open Forum by a range of senior industry delegates offering OEM and supplier perspectives on the business outlook for the UK supply chain.

Kicking off the session, Mick Aiers, Purchasing Manager at General Motors highlighted recent, high-value investment in facilities by a number of vehicle manufacturers in the UK, explaining how this can pave the way for a stronger automotive supply base. With the Automotive Council revealing more than £3 billion of opportunities for the domestic supply chain, Mr Aiers emphasised that suppliers must proactively pursue these prospects, making sure they do all they can to promote their products and identify ways to overcome barriers to growth.

Chris Gane, Managing Director of Caparo Materials Engineering provided the supplier perspective, outlining his views on the existing relationships of UK-based suppliers, particularly between SMEs and vehicle manufacturers. He emphasised that while significant progress has been made to boost the UK automotive supply chain, industry should do more and OEMs need to have greater confidence in the supply chain’s ability to deliver quality products and service.

He said, “The automotive supply chain needs OEMs to change their approach to procurement and to rethink the risk and confidence placed on working with UK suppliers, particularly those businesses lower down the chain and SMEs.

“The outlook is by no means certain but I am confident that suppliers, OEMs, government, banks and SMMT will continue to work together to build this industry.”

Rounding off the session, Andy Wareing, Purchasing Director at Nissan echoed the sentiments of his panel co-chairs, emphasising that UK automotive is in a growth phase and now is the time for suppliers to actively follow all business avenues. He highlighted that Nissan is firmly committed to working with the domestic supply chain and already spends 50% of its component procurement in the UK. Mr Wareing also urged supply companies to take advantage of the resources, services and events offered by SMMT and the Automotive Council to maximise new opportunities.

SMMT’s next supply chain-specific event will be Meet the Buyer taking place on 23 May in the West Midlands. For more information about participating as a buyer or a supplier at the event, visit the Meet the Buyer page or contact Nikki Huggett on

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