The Go-Ahead Group has set out a strategy to increase spending with small and medium sized businesses across all 12 of its UK bus and rail operating companies.
In a program aimed at helping small businesses bounce back from the pandemic, Go-Ahead has pledged to spend at least £250 million with SMEs each year from 2022.
A range of initiatives are to be introduced to make business opportunities easier to identify, to reward valued suppliers and to make contracts simpler.
They include the creation of a new SME Champion Group within Go-Ahead to maximise SME opportunities as well as the publication of a simple ‘how to do business with Go-Ahead’ guide.
There are also commitments to continually seek and trial ‘step change’ innovations from SMEs and to try to identify specific categories for ‘SME only’ spend.
Plans also include the creation of a short template contract written in plain English, the introduction of an ‘SME of the year’ award, publication of an 18-month forward pipeline of upcoming tendering opportunities and commitments to flow SME spend targets to large suppliers.
Go-Ahead works with more than 3,200 SMEs, which represent 75% of the company’s suppliers. SMEs include smart ticketing software suppliers, independent rail station cafes, mobile app providers, infrastructure improvement suppliers and bus spare parts providers.
One-third of Go-Ahead’s influenceable spend (about £247 million) was focused on SMEs in 2020.
The Group plans to spend an extra £15 million and to bring in 100 new SME suppliers by the end of 2023, bringing the proportion of SMEs among its suppliers up to 77%.
Elodie Brian, Go-Ahead Group’s Chief Financial Officer said: “We know we can make a big difference to the communities we serve by increasing our proportion of spend with SMEs, especially those local to our operations.”