Time out with suppliers can pay dividends, Esh Group finds

9th June 2017

Gareth Davies is Group procurement director at the North East-headquartered construction firm, and he leads a focussed strategy to make sure that happens.

“Many suppliers have been with us as we’ve grown, over a lot of years. As we’ve grown, they’ve grown. That’s great but we also have to make sure that all our processes and controls match,” explained Gareth.

The answer is Esh Group’s forward-thinking Supplier Relationship Management Programme (SRMP) – an opportunity for the firm’s key suppliers to share in Esh’s impressive growth record.

“It’s time to step aside from the day-to-day buying and operational work, and look more strategically at our relationship,” said Gareth.

“Through it we can make sure the trading arrangement creates reciprocal benefits. Quarterly meetings between suppliers and Esh’s procurement team aim to streamline processes, identify mutually beneficial opportunities and improve efficiency. For instance, electronic pdf invoicing is just one change to come about from the programme.”

Gareth added: “We’ve helped suppliers to look at professional accreditations that Esh has already achieved. Take ISO 9001 – there’s plenty of expertise in our business that can be passed on. We can tell them about the experience we’ve had in working towards these certificates, and offer assistance. Making sure our supply chain is robust, in terms of compliance, is really important. Price, quality of work and speed of delivery are all key factors, but compliance is one of our top concerns.

And supporting suppliers also has a direct commercial advantage for Esh Group. Gareth notes that tenders for new work are increasingly asking deep-diving questions about what the business does for its supply chain.

“Being able to bring the SRMP, and the suppliers involved, into our bids gives us a competitive advantage and raises the profile of our partners. It’s a great thing to show our potential customers,” said Gareth.

Given Esh’s 1,200-strong workforce and £270m turnover, there are resources to be shared as part of this supplier relationship.

“Gap analysis can show us what our suppliers need to grow. That might be training which we can offer them through Esh Training Solutions for instance or specialist knowledge to reduce their fuel consumption through our dedicated energy and environmental advisor, Simon Park,” explained Gareth.

Knowing such resources are available also bolsters the trust in Esh Group among the supply chain – an intangible but no less important part of the partnership.

Esh is already known for its sophisticated social responsibility programme – delivered by its Added Value team and including schemes like Building My Skills. Bringing that activity to the supply chain is also part of the mission.

The firm’s Carbon Coach course – a skills-building programme that promotes sustainable thinking among trainees – is also open to suppliers.


We have dealt with the Esh Group for many years, but since formalising our trading agreement with them through the Supplier Relationship Management Programme we have seen our relationship go from strength to strength.
By focusing on strategic matters as well as quarterly operational elements we have jointly added value to both our businesses. We have seen benefits from greater efficiencies including streamlining of the invoicing process, and a reduction of our carbon footprint via improvements to our transport fleet.”

- Steve Richardson, Managing Director at James Burrell

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