Heathrow press releases

03 March, 2016

Calling all SMEs – Heathrow’s Business Summit hits the road

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“We’ll need more SMEs from the Northern Powerhouse in Heathrow’s supply chain to deliver an expanded Heathrow” declared Phil Wilbraham, Heathrow’s Development Director at the BCC’s annual conference as he announced Business Summits in Manchester and Leeds. With strengths in complex manufacturing, science and innovation, SMEs in the Northern Powerhouse will be integral to Heathrow’s ability to deliver an expanded hub airport for the UK on-time and on-budget.

SME involvement in Heathrow’s supply chain is thriving, driven by massive increases over the past three years. Today, almost half of Heathrow’s Tier 1 suppliers are SMEs compared to just over a third three years ago.  Heathrow is looking to actively engage even more  SMEs at all levels of the supply chain with the launch of Business Summits in Manchester and Leeds following a successful trial with Business Summit North last year. The Northern Business Summits will complement Heathrow’s flagship Summit which takes place at the airport each November.

Now entering its 20th year, Heathrow’s annual Business Summit gives SMEs a unique opportunity to engage directly with each other and the airport’s supply chain – enabling the face-to-face interactions that are key to cementing relationships and connecting SMEs to growth opportunities at the airport and around the world.

SMEs already play a key role in Heathrow’s supply chain  – with the airport spending over £1.5 billion annually with over 1,200 suppliers from around the UK – and their role will grow with the airport’s expansion. Overnight Heathrow expansion will become the UK’s largest infrastructure project and a diverse supply chain will be required to deliver it. The first wave of new jobs from the £15.6 billion project will come from the planning and development of an additional runway and new terminals, offering significant opportunities for SMEs across the UK.


Phil Wilbraham, Heathrow’s Development Director said:

“SMEs are the backbone of the British economy and have played an indispensable role in helping us transform Heathrow into a world-class airport Britain can be proud of.

We started the Heathrow Business Summit 20 years ago and we’ve seen the proportion of SMEs in our supply chain grow ever since. I’m proud that this year we’re able to host Business Summits across the Northern Powerhouse – enabling us to do our part to encourage their continued growth.”


Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Policy Director Chris Fletcher said:

“Greater Manchester Chamber is really pleased to work with Heathrow in putting forward business opportunities to our members and other local businesses. This is proof that major organisations have real openings to work and trade with other businesses irrespective of their size or location. The UK economy can only get stronger by all businesses taking advantage of such opportunities and we encourage as many companies as possible to get involved.”


West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce Vice Chairman Graham Cooper said:

“The event last year was a great example of how the Chamber can work with organisations like Heathrow to highlight national supply chain opportunities for businesses in our region. It also demonstrated that Heathrow has a genuine appetite to create and build long term relationships with companies who operate within a variety of sectors .The length and breadth of Heathrow’s supply chain provides a massive opportunity, one which I would encourage businesses to take advantage of at the event in 2016.”




Notes to editors:

Heathrow makes a significant contribution to UK Plc, a great illustration of which is the economic value that was created with the construction of Terminal 2: The Queen’s Terminal which was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in June 2014. The project itself created 34,000 jobs in infrastructure, engineering and construction across the country and around 24,000 out of the 76,600 people working at Heathrow work at Terminal 2. 

Heathrow used hundreds of suppliers to deliver the £2.5 billion infrastructure project, of which many were small and medium businesses right across the UK from Exeter to County Antrim. For example, the structural steelwork for the roof of Terminal 2 was made by firms in both Lancashire and Yorkshire. The contract was worth £40 million and Severfield and Watson said that the contract safeguarded jobs at both their plants and generated additional work. In Exeter, over 5,000 direction signs were made by a Wood and Wood signs, the company employs 50 people and added an extra 7 staff to support the increase in workload. These are just a couple of examples where the investment made by Heathrow made a real difference to businesses around the UK. 

The Northern Powerhouse Heathrow Business Summits will take place in Manchester on 7th June and Leeds 29th September. SMEs wishing to register for the Manchester Business Summit should contact events@gmchamber.co.uk and events@wnychamber.co.uk for the Leeds event. More information is also available on the Heathrow Business Summit webpage: www.heathrow.com/businesssummit

The day will consist of speed-dating style sessions of interviews with procurement managers representing businesses based at the airport. By forging connections and winning new business, SMEs have the opportunity to enter Heathrow’s supply chain before development work kicks off as well as using the airport’s international presence to project their brand globally.