What kind of supply companies do you have relationships with?
We have supply chain relationships with key equipment suppliers that we’ve carefully built up and developed over the years. We try to keep it to a fairly select list of the products that we use most often in our developments. These include spa products, changing rooms and lockers, audio-visual equipment, soft play products, all weather pitches and climbing structures.
We’ll usually work with several companies within these different sectors, so if our client favours a particular company or product for some reason, they always have a choice.
The one area where we don’t have preferred suppliers is fitness equipment, as we find this to be a very personal choice for operators – so we work with all the fitness equipment suppliers. When we go to shows like Sibec, for example, we’re there as both a supplier and a buyer looking for the latest and best products.
How do you select suppliers?
There are two key factors. One is price - can they give us the most cost effective and best value deal? Secondly, and just as important, what are they like as a company? Do they have sound warranties, are their products durable, and are they skilled at installation? We also do financial checks on them.
Our leisure developments are only as strong as the weakest link. We could complete a fantastic scheme, only to find it compromised by a sub-standard piece of equipment. Our reputation is very closely aligned to how our supply chain performs.
Do you only work with suppliers on your select list?
We can work with any products and suppliers, but obviously we’ve chosen to work with our supply chain because we regard them as the best, and they are also accustomed to our way of working and high standards.
Of course, our client can have any product they wish in their new facility, as long as they realise they might need to pay more for it and the overall budget will need to be adjusted. From our point of view, we need to ensure that we can work well with any new suppliers and trust them during the installation stage.
All our preferred suppliers, for example, are very strong on health and safety and are used to working in live environments like leisure centres. Most of the developments we do cannot afford to close during the building phase, and so this aspect is very important from the point of view of end-user relations and consumer safety.
What are the other benefits of working with your supply chain?
Aside from price and quality, there’s also the very important issue of aftercare. If it’s a one-off deal and you’ve already signed the cheque then it can often be quite tricky to get things fixed if problems arise. Our suppliers are much more likely to jump in the car and get any problems fixed quickly – especially when they have many more deals with us in the pipeline.
As we have national account status we can get things sorted out more easily. If there’s a problem with a widget we can usually go directly to the manufacturer, rather than waiting for a regional account manager to get in touch!
Are you always looking for new suppliers to add to your list?
We are constantly market-testing suitable new products and all our current suppliers know that, so that ensures that their prices are kept lean and competitive.
We never rest on our laurels in this area, and must ensure that our supplier prices aren’t slowly creeping up and becoming out of kilter with what the rest of the market is doing.