Businesses showcase their offers at Meet the Supplier event
"The County Council understands that a strong economy is underpinned by partnerships and in this case the food, tourism and hospitality sectors will benefit from working alongside each other."
The strength and breadth of suppliers to the hospitality, leisure and tourism sector in Coventry and Warwickshire have been highlighted at a key industry event.
Around 100 people attended the inaugural Meet the Supplier Event at Stratford-on-Avon Racecourse, which was organised by Destination Coventry, in partnership with Shakespeare’s England and Warwickshire County Council.
It saw over 30 businesses set-up at the racecourse to highlight their services to businesses in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sector. Exhibitors ranged from artisan food producers, distilleries and hospitality venues, to marketing companies, AV suppliers and business support services. It presented an opportunity for suppliers to get in front of decision makers in the region and enhance their presence in the Coventry and Warwickshire tourism, leisure and hospitality market.
The event featured two panel sessions on the day, with experts highlighting the benefits of sourcing locally and giving top tips on how to become a preferred supplier to a hospitality business.
The first panel featured Marc Frankl from Amadeus Food, Tom Barber from The Barn at Berryfields, Richard Harrison of No Ordinary Hospitality Management, Dave Ayton-Hill of Warwickshire County Council and Luke Truslove from the Jacobean Hotel and The Green Dragon in Coventry. The panel discussed the importance of sourcing local products, the benefits for businesses in doing so, and highlighted some of the challenges and opportunities that come with buying local. It was highlighted that customers care about the origins of their food, and in many cases are willing to pay more for the provenance and story that comes with local produce.
Panellists emphasised the sustainability benefits of sourcing locally and how building relationships is vital for suppliers seeking to break into the market. But challenges around managing expectations when working with smaller suppliers, accreditations and food safety were also discussed.
For every £1 spent locally, £2.50 extra is generated for the local economy, according to Warwickshire County Council.
The second panel discussed how to become a preferred supplier to a hospitality business and featured Ron Terry of No Ordinary Hospitality Management, Mark O’Shea from Coventry Building Society Arena, Charlene McCalla from Amadeus Food, Dave Blick of Warwickshire Gin Company and Dal Dhillon, managing director of Dhillon’s Brewery.
Factors including industry standards and procurement processes were discussed, as well as examples of how the producers on the panel had been able to get their products in front of potential customers.
The panel discussed being bold and reaching out directly to hospitality businesses through social media and the importance of consistent marketing, with the businesses on the panel highlighting that LinkedIn is an excellent tool to reach potential customers.
David Ayton-Hill, Assistant Director for Communities with Warwickshire County Council, said: “We were delighted to see the success of the event. The County Council understands that a strong economy is underpinned by partnerships and in this case the food, tourism and hospitality sectors will benefit from working alongside each other.
“This networking event built on connections achieved in previous campaign years of Warwickshire Food and Drink and made others. It makes both economic and environmental sense for local businesses to access produce from our high-quality local suppliers. This event will have strengthened the links that make that possible in Warwickshire."
Paul Jones, Managing Director of Destination Coventry, said: “Suppliers in our region have a lot to offer to venues and this event has helped those businesses to speak directly to potential customers but more importantly gain vital insights on the steps they can follow to take their business to the next level.
“We would like to thank all of the panellists for sharing their expertise and we are sure it will have been valuable to the businesses in the room. The day showed what we can achieve as a sector if we work in collaboration. It was fantastic to see so many businesses in the room, passionate about growing their businesses and supporting the visitor economy in Coventry and Warwickshire.
Helen Peters, Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s England, added: “The tourism scene in our region is fast surging towards pre-pandemic levels. We are determined to ensure this is done in the most sustainable way, so there has never been a better time for local suppliers to engage with local hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses.
“It was fantastic to see so many businesses of all sizes and sectors coming together to explore how they can help to grow an industry that is going to be crucial to the long-term prosperity of our region.”
* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747