CEO Update

Meet the Buyer set to energise UK automotive supply chain

02 June 2023 #CEO Update

The last few years have been a particularly torrid time for automotive supply chains, with the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, geopolitical disruption and economic upheaval coming just as the sector braces for its most radical transformation in more than a hundred years. The wholesale transition of products, people and processes required to deliver net zero comes at a time of intense global competition, making the need to develop fresh opportunities paramount.

So the return of SMMT’s Meet the Buyer in Birmingham next week (7 June) is timely. Since its inception, our annual supplier-buyer matching event has helped forge more than 1,400 successful partnerships, generating significant inward investment for the UK and accelerating innovation – making it one of the most important events for UK automotive. This year, we’re preparing to introduce buyers from 17 global brands, including Aisin, BMW Group, BorgWarner, JLR, McLaren, Nissan, Stellantis and Volta Trucks, to more than 200 of the UK’s most innovative and cutting-edge suppliers.

The UK’s vibrant and diverse supply chain has been built on many years of inward investment, expertise and innovation, with more than 5,000 companies and 79,000 highly skilled workers underpinning the wider automotive ecosystem. And the sector’s role in driving the UK’s industrial transition and zero carbon economic growth must not be underestimated. SMMT’s EV Supply Chain Directory, published this year, shows the UK already produces almost every component required to make zero emission vehicles – from batteries and hydrogen fuel cells to silicon carbide wafers. The challenge now is to scale up that capability at pace – and that means providing the competitive conditions needed to attract more investment and sourcing to the UK.

This year Meet the Buyer will be hosted at the all-new Automotive Supply Chain Forum, taking place at Automechanika Birmingham, which returns for the first time since before the pandemic to the NEC 6-8 June. More than 12,000 visitors from across the all-important aftermarket and supply chain sectors are expected to attend to see a vast array of cutting-edge products, tools and services on offer from some 500 exhibitors. Given the pandemic-induced deferments, it will be something of an automotive networking reunion, a great opportunity to come together with industry colleagues to discuss some of the key issues challenging our sector – electrification and battery technology, light-weighting, sustainability, logistics, skills and the importance of service and maintenance in keeping our essential vehicles on the road . Tickets are free, and I hope to see many of you there.

Competitiveness and collaboration as we pursue net zero are key themes for our next event later this month – the annual SMMT International Automotive Summit, taking place in London on Tuesday 27 June. The deadline for early bird tickets ends today, and with speakers including Chris Gall, Engineering Director of Alexander Dennis; Chris Giles, Economics Editor for the Financial Times; and Saul Resnick, UK&I Chief Executive of DHL Supply Chain, this is an event you don’t want to miss. To book your place, contact

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