Business urged to buy local and boost regional recovery

Business leaders and advisers are have issued a call for firms to "buy locally" to help Yorkshire companies grow.

Experts from the Confederation of British Industry, Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber and accountants Deloitte met last week to discuss procurement policies to benefit local and regional manufacturing businesses.

Andrew Palmer of the CBI said: "Never before has there been more reason to buy British, and from within the region if at all possible. The growth of the economy and future job creation could be given a massive boost by even a small increase in the percentage of goods sourced here, and we are urging firms to invest time in refreshing supplier databases to try and find new trading relationships here in the region."

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Experts argue the weak pound, high freight charges and carbon incentives, together with increasingly competitive UK products, make shortening supply chains by sourcing more components locally a logical approach.

"We aren't pretending that every component or material can be found on your doorstep, but we do know that there are many instances where a little time spent on research could deliver efficiencies for the buyer, reduce costs and benefit the local and regional economy, and that is just sensible," added Mr Palmer.

Gary Williamson, chief executive at the Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber, said: "Local authorities and government bodies must adhere to strict competitive guidelines when it comes to procurement, but a key component of these is environmental impact, and the shorter the distance from maker to consumer the lower the carbon impact of the product.

"Whilst we can never be self-sufficient, we tend to forget that businesses here manufacture a huge range of products, and if we all look to source closer to home where possible we will create jobs, reduce carbon emissions and keep more of our money flowing around the UK economy."

David Raistrick, Leeds-based national head of manufacturing at Deloitte, said with the UK still the sixth-largest manufacturing base in the world it has "never made more sense" for Yorkshire firms to buy locally.

"We play a significant part in this story, and have successful manufacturers all over the region that could be key to Yorkshire's economic recovery," he said. The region's manufacturing industry ranges from medical devices, microchips and robots to packaging, textiles, heavy steel fabrications, buses and road gritters.

"It would be wrong to suggest that everything could be sourced regionally or even nationally, or that we should buy more expensive or less appropriate products in favour of their origin, but equally there are really good arguments for revisiting supplier databases and seeing what new entrants have emerged in recent years," said Mr Raistrick.