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Wales is a small country. It is characterised by small enterprises and small local authorities, and indeed a small government – the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG). Even the cities are small: Cardiff, the capital and largest city, has a population of around 350,000 people. Despite being small, Wales has a strong sense of patriotism, and has a unique culture distinct from the rest of the UK.
This sense of patriotism, of Welshness, has led to a major initiative by the WAG. WAG has set up a system whereby Welsh companies and entrepreneurs can register to be informed of upcoming tenders and contracts for all WAG departments, universities, National Health Service trusts and local authorities in the country. The website acts as a one-stop shop for suppliers and buyers, so that buyers can easily register their requirements and obtain access to a large group of suppliers, while at the same time suppliers can register for automatic email alerts when potentially attractive tenders come up. Even in a small country the total spend by the public sector runs into billions of pounds a year, money which can be crucial to firms in Wales.
In addition, the Sell2Wales site publicises help and events for businesses. WAG offers a business advice service, including mentoring for small firms, and also provides workshops and seminars on topics such as tendering for contracts and supply chain management.
Obviously the site has to be open to companies from anywhere in the UK, and even (at the time of writing) the European Union, but the bulk of companies registered on the site are based within Wales, if only because many of the tenders are for services. Thus much of the money remains within Wales, supporting the Welsh economy.
For example, Kelray Building Maintenance Ltd is a company based in Merthyr Tydfil, a notoriously depressed area which suffers from high unemployment levels. Managing Director Carl Raynes registered with Sell2Wales almost at the outset, and has had many contracts from local authorities for the maintenance of social housing stock. A one-year contract for Torfaen County Borough Council involved Kelray in refurbishing empty houses to provide housing for homeless people, a project which not only earned money for the company but which also provided work for the extra people needed to service the contract. Another example is Ocon Fire and Security Ltd. Ocon was established in 2006, and now employs 27 people in two locations: one in West Wales and another in England. Ocon uses Sell2Wales extensively, and has secured contracts with Pembrokeshire County Council, Dyfed Powys Police, and Murco oil refinery. The company website says:
For Ocon, the advantage of using Sell2Wales is that the information for upcoming contracts is e-mailed to us every morning instead of our sales team having to chase procurement departments constantly to get information on upcoming tender opportunities. This allows our sales team the time to grow the business in other areas instead of constantly chasing for information on the larger tenders coming up.
The Sell2Wales website allows suppliers to enter keywords and filters so that they only receive relevant information, rather than being bombarded with every tender that comes up. This saves a great deal of time, which for a small company is important because such firms often do not have sufficient staff to dedicate to trawling through large amounts of information. Some businesses are tiny: even microbusinesses comprising one or two people have successfully used Sell2Wales.
From the buyer’s viewpoint, sourcing a suitable supplier could not be easier. All the buyer needs to do is establish the criteria for a tender and post it on the website. Sell2Wales notifies suitable companies, who can then bid. The buyer then simply chooses the company that best fits the specification. Sell2Wales has been a tremendous success, acting as a facilitator for small businesses who may not have the commercial selling expertise that a large firm would have. For a small country with small businesses and small customers, Sell2Wales is the ideal solution.
1.Why would a buyer use Sell2Wales?
2.What might be the disadvantages of using Sell2Wales, from a supplier’s viewpoint?
3.Why might there be a bias in favour of Welsh companies?
4.Why does WAG offer business advice to small firms?
5.What are the key factors in the success of Sell2Wales?