Asda has become the first client to join the Construction Products Association as it bids to form direct relationships with its building supply chain.
The supermarket giant joined the body this month with the aim of improving its ties with specialist subcontractors and products suppliers.
Asda currently works with up to eight main contractors that, along with its contracted quantity surveyors, are responsible for sourcing and appointing subcontractors.
While the supermarket’s bosses insist main contractors will continue to appoint their supply chain, they will bring suppliers on board if they believe the firms can contribute.
Representatives of Asda’s retail development team will attend the CPA’s quarterly networking events.
Phil Bartram, a property communications manager in Asda’s retail development team, said there were significant opportunities for specialist firms to work with Asda on a scheme-by-scheme basis.
He said: “We are always interested in talking to suppliers that are able to provide innovative new ways of solving problems – helping us drive value and improve our processes. In fact, we are so keen to increase the depth of our subcontracting base that we recently joined the Construction Products Association, which provides us with a better range of suppliers in key areas such as steel work, cladding, walling and electrical engineering, among others.”
Asda insisted it would pay a fair price for its suppliers’ services and wanted to achieve longevity in its relationships with chosen firms.
According to business intelligence unit Glenigan, Asda was the 19th biggest client to the construction industry in 2008 – the third biggest from the private sector – with projects totalling £271 million in value.
This year alone it has opened 12 new stores and 10 extensions using a range of suppliers from the UK construction industry.
The firm has 11 projects lodged with planning departments across the UK, with decisions expected back between now and March 2009.
CPA chief executive Michael Ankers said Asda would not be given supplier status, but would come in as an associate member.
He said: “They are the first client we have had in our membership and through this they are keen to better understand the value that they can obtain from a closer relationship with our part of the supply chain. They are keen to engage with manufacturers and suppliers through the regular meeting of our Network Club.
These kinds of development reinforce the Egan messages that a more integrated approach to construction projects can drive innovation and improvement providing clients with long-term value.”
Asda, the UK’s second largest retailer, operates more than 360 stores, employing more than 160,000 staff.