With thanks to Eoin Smith, Tricker PR.
North east businesses leaders are being asked for their views on whether a high-profile local procurement initiative should continue and how funding might be generated to enable it to expand.
Russell Borthwick (pictured), chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, will ask delegates at a major exhibition later this month whether there is an appetite to continue with the Buy North East campaign.
Mr Borthwick says the Chamber has been “overwhelmed” by the level of support for Buy North East, which was launched last year in a bid to encourage local firms to do more business with companies based within the region.
He will tell delegates at the Langstane Business Show taking place at the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen on March 22 and 23 that it is important to gather the views of the business community before reaching a decision.
Langstane Press Ltd – one of the first companies to sign up to Buy North East – has changed the format of its biennial business show, which has been running for 25 years, in response to the economic downturn.
It will move away from being a trade show and this year’s event – called Lean and Mean in 17 – will focus on giving delegates information to help get their business into shape by cutting costs and saving money.
Mr Borthwick will be one of the keynote speakers on the second day of the show. He says Buy North East was set up with a number of partner organisations to try and reach a position where local procurement becomes the accepted way that good business in the region works.
“At a time when many businesses and individuals are feeling the impact of the oil and gas downturn, it is more important than ever that we collectively do all we can to help the regional economy with the aim of protecting and creating jobs here.
“Reflecting at the end of November, the steering group agreed that the concept had gained remarkable traction in a short period, with over 500 businesses signing up and lots of talk-ability through press coverage.
“The general mood of the meeting was that having established the initial stimulus, it would be a shame not to take advantage of the momentum and brand equity that has been created but that any future phases should probably take some new directions rather than simply repeating the recipe.”
Mr Borthwick says the success of the campaign has meant that it is often perceived as an organisation with staff and resources, rather than as a campaign run by five partners.
“We need to understand the level of support out there for continuing the activity in 2017 – what type of activities people believe could be introduced to keep the campaign fresh, relevant and effective, and whether this is an appetite to help fund this,” he adds.
Langstane – Scotland’s largest office supplies company – has been trading for 70 years and has a product range in excess of 30,000 items, from printer paper to toilet paper and from tubs of coffee to packs of lightbulbs. As well as traditional office supplies, the firm has diversified its product range to provide office furniture and patient care furniture.
The show will bring together its leading partners across the office supplies, print, healthcare, interiors and promotional product sectors to share top tips on how to make money-saving changes. All aspects of efficiency will be covered, from overhauling print processes to janitorial supplies to help cut down on staff sick days.
Jason Llewellyn from global IT firm HP will give a talk on both days of the event on how short-term investment in technology could help reduce operating costs in the longer term. On the first day of the show Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP (AAB) will also give a presentation.
John Black, the firm’s partner in charge of audit, and Claire Smith, management consulting associate, will be presenting on the theme of Survive and Thrive. They both have extensive experience in working with businesses as they adapt to challenging trading conditions, and believe that communication is key.
Mr Black says AAB has carried out more presentations in Aberdeen over the past 18 months on the theme of cost saving and surviving a downturn than at any other point in his career.
“Events like the Langstane Business Show are excellent platforms to share ideas – face-to-face – that will drive efficiencies and find new practices. Without people talking to each other, that kind of sharing of experience does not happen,” he says.
“I think that the approach Langstane is taking with this year’s show will be very useful to all the delegates who attend. They will be able to see that making savings is not always about cutting the cost and getting a discounted price – it is often about changing behaviours and finding more effective and efficient ways of doing things.”
Miss Smith adds,
“I think the event being staged by Langstane is an outstanding opportunity for businesses to learn from peers and others who will be attending. One of the areas that we will be focusing on is working capital, including managing customers, suppliers and stock– for example, does a company need to hold six months, or even one month, of supplies of stock.
“John and I will be available after the presentation to meet with anyone who would like to discuss any of the points we raise.”
Lean and Mean in 17 is free to attend, and delegates should register in advance at www.langstane.co.uk. There will be opportunities for networking throughout the two days, and many suppliers can offer allotted appointments.
Langstane is Scotland’s largest independent office products company and is one of the largest in the UK. Langstane, established in 1947 in Aberdeen remains a family business and has further branches in Dundee and Livingston. Langstane employs over 120 staff and has a turnover of £15m. More about the company can be found at www.langstane.co.uk.
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