Possibility filled the air at this year’s Procurex North Live showcase event when representatives from both sides of the procurement process and some of the UK’s leading procurement experts descended onto the floor of the Manchester Central Convention Complex on Tuesday 8 March.
Opportunities for discovery and networking presented themselves in all corners of the venue, from the chance to mingle with buyers and suppliers and learn directly from the successes of others, and extending to opportunities to hear keynote speeches from leaders in the procurement field and learn about the future of and aspirations for modern procurement.
Chairing the Keynote Arena and setting the scene for the day in his opening address was procurement expert and PASS consultant Colin Cram, who discussed the increasingly challenging environment in public sector procurement.
Addressing a packed arena, Mr Cram spoke about the importance of well-managed procurement being recognised increasingly within the public sector.
He explained: “More is demanded of procurement people and more is delivered. And the more you deliver, the more is expected.
“Procurement is taking up an increasing proportion of public sector spending. If we exclude social security benefits and pensions, it’s heading towards 40% of public sector expenditure. Public services absolutely depend on procurement – and depend on procurement being managed well.”
Kicking off the speeches in the Keynote Arena was Chief Executive of Trafford Council Theresa Grant, who discussed the journey to devolution in Greater Manchester and the role procurement will play in that journey, saying that the two go hand in hand.
Ms Grant reiterated the importance of better public procurement, highlighting the busy and exciting role being played by procurement in developing Manchester as a thriving hub of opportunity and increased devolution.
She commented: “I do believe that procurement is one of the fulcrums and one of the key links in the chain across all partners, because no matter what we do across devolution, it comes down to what do we buy, how do we buy it, and who do we get to deliver our services.
“The powers and responsibilities transferred from Government to Greater Manchester are geared towards accelerating growth, boosting skills and encouraging local decision-making and increased self-sufficiency of our businesses, our residents and all our public services.”
Moving onto the main exhibition floor, representatives from all types of organisation could be found networking with attendees, building new relationships and passing on their wisdom and experience to delegates.
One such organisation was ISS Kinloss-Lossiemouth, who could be found in the Best Practice Case Study Zone at the Procurex Learning Academy giving a presentation about their business model. ISS Kinloss-Lossiemouth went on that evening to win ‘Highly Commended’ in the ‘Best Service Award – Other Organisations’ category at the National GO Awards 2016/17, held at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate.
ISS Kinloss-Lossiemouth Catering and Retail Manager and Corporate Champion, Zee Fletcher, enthused of Procurex North Live: “Bringing buyers and suppliers together at events such as Procurex is massively beneficial.
“We’re in a small part of Scotland but we’re a global company. Working today and meeting with other suppliers helps us engage together and hopefully develop and make new links for procurement.
“Today I’ve already met people who we are going to be doing business with. Without Procurex, we wouldn’t have actually met with them, especially in the rural area of Scotland we live in.”
One of the key national organisations in attendance was official event partner the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), whose Chief Executive, Sally Collier, also addressed delegates at the Keynote Arena. In the central CCS Pavilion, Neil Martin, Customer and Digital Communications Manager, discussed the success of the day:
He said: “There has been a constant and steady flow of people coming to the pavilion and it’s been a really good opportunity for us to meet with delegates.
“It’s always important for us to get out and network and engage with our key customers and suppliers and events like Procurex North are a great occasion for us to meet lots of them in one place at one time.”
Procurex North Live 2017 promises to deliver more opportunities to buyers and suppliers than ever before, with yet another busy schedule of unmissable opportunities for engagement, learning and professional development. Updates and further details of the event on 17 March 2017 at Manchester Central will be published on the GovOpps website and at www.procurexlive.co.uk shortly.