The big firms give backing to buy local campaign

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CORPORATES across Yorkshire have backed calls for businesses to trade locally and boost regional supply chains.

The Yorkshire Post is calling for firms to support its Buy Yorkshire campaign by increasing trade within the region, choosing local suppliers wherever they can.

Firms including mobile technology group Filtronic, engineer Pressure Technologies and stockbroker and corporate adviser N+1 Brewin said they all plan to do more business with Yorkshire companies.

Shipley-based Filtronic makes technology to link mobile phone base stations, and is also helping operators upgrade their networks to cope with increasing volumes of mobile data.

Filtronic’s chief executive Hemant Mardia said: “One of our biggest interests here is to develop our (mobile phone) operator business in the UK. We’ve got some strong operators and that’s a key for us. We want to do more with mobile phone operators.

“On the base station side we want to tap into the digital offering – it’s a big part of Yorkshire.”

Mobile phone operators are increasingly looking to upgrade their networks as the proliferation of data-hungry technology, such as smart phones and tablet PCs, results in a “capacity crunch”.

Dr Mardia said Filtronic’s technology allows operators to use existing infrastructure, and “delays the time when they have to put in completely new kit”.

Its wireless division targets a $500m market and now has eight customers, up from two when Filtronic bought the business.

Sheffield-based Pressure Technologies, which works in the oil and gas, defence, industrial gases and renewable energy sectors, said it tries to source supplies locally when it can.

“We’ve always, wherever possible, tried to buy locally,” said chief executive John Hayward.

“For a region to be successful you need a well-balanced infrastructure. If you don’t buy locally you’re not going to get critical mass.

“Therefore it’s a really good idea.”

Pressure Technologies makes high-pressure cylinders for use in deep water oil rigs, submarines and gas trailers and buys some of its steel from Sheffield Forgemasters.

“It’s about buying from the smaller guys as well. We use a local supplier for our security and IT support.” However, Mr Hayward said many of its raw materials are not made in the UK, and it sources pipe for its cylinders from the United States and Italy.

N+1 Brewin, which recently split from wealth manager Brewin Dolphin, has an office in Leeds and advises Yorkshire plcs including Renew Holdings, Airea and Animalcare.

Chief executive Jamie Cumming said many businesses prefer to deal with a regional adviser, and it hopes to win more work with Yorkshire’s small to mid-cap companies.

“These are important clients and like to have a regional presence,” he said. “If they did not, they could have a London broker team.

“The Leeds office is very important. We have connections right across the North.

“We feel that we come across lots of companies who have requirements and want to access capital markets. That might not be today, but next year or the year after.

“That’s an area where we can pick up more clients. We see an opportunity because there’s going to be less competition for that position.”

Mr Cumming said the corporate advisory and broking sector, which is undergoing considerable change and consolidation, provides opportunities for mid-sized advisers such as N+1 Brewin, but he predicts more consolidation among smaller brokers.

“There has been consolidation and the strong are getting stronger,” he said. “These (bigger) houses are not necessarily interested in clients we naturally do business with.”

The campaign has also been backed by Business Secretary Vince Cable, who said it should drive growth across Yorkshire.

The Yorkshire Post is also campaigning to shake up public sector procurement rules, which make it difficult for top companies to sell into local authorities and state bodies, even if they are considered to be world class.