UK’s biggest tram expansion project: ‘Meet the Buyer’ event attracts over 150 delegates

A Meet the Buyer event held at Sandwell Council House on Thursday 19 October attracted over 150 professionals from more than 120 manufacturing and construction-related businesses to discuss the UK’s biggest tram expansion project.

The Midland Metro Alliance (MMA), in partnership with the West Midlands Growth Company, the Black Country Growth Hub and Sandwell Council, held the event to allow interested parties to meet with procurement and design teams charged with delivering the £1.3bn Midland Metro line expansion.

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Sandwell Council’s Director of Neighbourhoods, Dr Alison Knight, explained that the breakfast-time event allowed new business opportunities stemming from tramline expansion to be highlighted on a cross-regional scale.

“Sandwell Council’s business engagement strategy is simple: to be the most progressive procurement and supply chain management service,” she said. “We are keen to help businesses connect, gain insight, build knowledge and become better equipped to win contracts on flagship regeneration projects in the Midlands. So it was great to see dozens of local firms using the event on Thursday to do all of those things”.

At Sandwell Council we know one of the most difficult things for small businesses is to get face-to-face access to buyers and learn exactly what they are looking for in suppliers. Like our past Meet the Buyer events, Thursday’s session provided a valuable opportunity for local businesses to do just that: connect with potential clients in a formal yet relaxed networking environment.

Steve Massey, Sandwell Council’s local procurement lead, said: “My job is to help the council foster opportunities for manufacturers, component suppliers and the subcontract supply chain, helping them to forge links with procurement teams, engineers and design decision-makers who deliver our region’s major regeneration projects.

“Events like this definitely contribute to that agenda. People found lots of opportunities to pitch for new business in one place, make new contacts and source potential new suppliers in an easy way”.

With more than £1.3bn worth of works packages spread over six tram extensions and a ten-year work programme, the Midland Metro project offers many opportunities to businesses looking to develop and grow.

According to Paula Gray, Head of Procurement at MMA: “Procurement as an activity has changed very much over the past five years.  It is not so much ‘cheapest price, get an order on the system’ as it used to be – nowadays there is much focus on the CSR [corporate social responsibility] aspect of procurement, ethics, risk, data protection and above all, long-term sustainable relationships.

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“[The] event gave us an opportunity to meet with prospective suppliers, have relevant one-to-one conversations and explain what we are looking for from firms who aspire to work with us and become part of our innovative supply chain.

“Meet the Buyer events give us the ability to engage with suppliers that actually want to work with us. They give us a unique platform to sell the tram extension project into their businesses, a revolutionary thing for us”.

As well as giving delegates the chance to network with like-minded professionals, the early morning session featured exhibition stands on key industry topics such as BIM (Building Information Modelling) and the fully funded training available through the Skills Support for Workforce programme, as well as a demonstration of the recently launched HVM [High Value Manufacturing] City Procurement Portal.

If you’re interested in attending future Meet the Buyer events hosted by Sandwell Council and our partner organisations, keep an eye on our news and events pages or contact Steve Massey via

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