SMEs have the chance for vital Heathrow role

Phil Wilbraham, Heathrows development director

Phil Wilbraham, Heathrows development director

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ENTREPRENEURS who wish to become part of Heathrow Airport’s supply chain have the chance to attend a major business summit which is due to be held in Yorkshire later this year.

Heathrow is targeting Leeds because the airport wants to leverage the Northern Powerhouse’s strengths in complex manufacturing, science and innovation.

A spokesman for Heathrow said that Yorkshire firms’ expertise will be critical in helping the airport to deliver its expansion plans.

Phil Wilbraham, Heathrow’s development director, is due to announce business summits in Manchester and Leeds at the British Chamber of Commerce’s (BCC’s) annual conference, which is being held today.

He said: “We’ll need more SMEs from the Northern Powerhouse in Heathrow’s supply chain to deliver an expanded Heathrow.”

According to Mr Wilbraham, SMEs in the Northern Powerhouse could play key roles in delivering an expanded hub airport for the UK, on time and on budget.

A spokesman for Heathrow said: “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 with just over a third three years ago.

“Heathrow is looking to actively engage with 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.”

The spokesman said that SMEs already play a key role in Heathrow’s supply chain, with the airport spending more than £1.5bn annually with over 1,200 suppliers from around the UK, and their role will grow with the airport’s expansion.

Mr Wilbraham added: “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.”

Graham Cooper, the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce vice-chairman, 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 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.”

The Northern Powerhouse Heathrow Business Summits will take place in Manchester on June 7 and in Leeds on September 29.

SMEs wishing to register for the Manchester summit should contact and for the Leeds event. More information is at

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