Hampshire: Batting for the county as firms pitch for business

Hampshire businesses are hoping for a share of contracts worth millions of pounds after an annual business match-making day at The Ageas Bowl. The seventh South Hampshire Meet the Buyers day, run by a local authority partnership and delivered by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, brought dozens of companies face-to-face with major buyers of business services. A similar event held in 2012 generated deals worth an estimated £6.25 million.

This year’s event was opened by Hampshire’s newest MP, Mike Thornton, recently elected in Eastleigh. He said: “The number of organisations coming to this event shows just how friendly Hampshire is for business. This is a great example of a chamber of commerce, businesses and local authorities all working together to create jobs and investment.”

Among the buyers this year were blue-chips such as Babcock, Exxon Mobil and Lockheed Martin together with well-established Hampshire names including Vitacress, Simplyhealth and Sparsholt College. Suppliers came from engineering, manufacturing, telecoms, construction, marketing, printing, cloud computing technology and other sectors.

Natasha Curry, general manager of Hampshire building firm Lifetime Construction, said: “We’ve been coming to this event for the past five years and each year we have won business afterwards. The face-to-face contact with procurement managers is a great way to grow relationships with existing clients and pick up new business. It helps you understand what work contracts are available and coming up.”

The South Hampshire Meet the Buyers Partnership holds the event annually with Hampshire Chamber acting as organiser. The partnership was joined for the first time this year by Portsmouth City Council. The other authorities involved are Hampshire County Council, New Forest District Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, Test Valley Borough Council and Winchester City Council.

Ian Bridges, Business Services Manager at Portsmouth City Council, said: “We want to support business and so it was great to see companies big and small attending an event that is so valuable to the regional supply chain. It is really important for us as a procuring organisation to meet with business people and ensure they are aware of potential work.”

Jimmy Chestnutt, Hampshire Chamber chief executive, said: “The venue was a very apt backdrop for an event that is truly batting for Hampshire. Success is down to a strong partnership between the Chamber, businesses and local authorities, together with a huge amount of work behind the scenes.”

In collaboration with Southampton Solent University, the event featured a bespoke software package for matching suppliers to buyers. It was built by the University’s creative services agency, Solent Creatives, under a business support project called 5+5.