How to make the most of the Hinkley opportunities

Hinkley activity is ramping up, so what do you do next? Registered on the suppliers portal - tick. Sit back and wait for work to come to you, not quite!

Hinkley offers a huge long term opportunity for you as local businesses to operate in a new national industry and embark on a journey to become 'Nuclear Ready', but also to use this springboard to grow and develop your wider businesses for the long term future. The businesses which have been successful to date are those that have been proactive and grasped the opportunities to commit time, effort and resources, even well in advance of contracts actually being released.

The Suppliers Portal is a great starting point as this means your business is visible to the Hinkley Supply Chain Team (HSCT). This team is actively engaging with Somerset and wider South West businesses who want to become part of the Hinkley Supply Chain. The idea is you register your business online setting out your businesses' core services and key capabilities. HSCT will assist with matching suppliers with EDF Energy and Tiers 1 to 3 contractor work package requirements so that EDF and the relevant contractors can then choose who they would like to meet and work with.

You need to make your business stand out and you can do this a number of ways. Firstly, ensure you have a very good description of your services and capabilities on the portal to increase your chances of being selected from the pool of suppliers. Make it clear what you can offer and how you meet Hinkley's required values; whether this be the quality and safety standards required or the project values of humility, respect, positivity, clarity and solidarity. Secondly, get out there and promote yourself.  Always send out the representatives who can meet people, network and sell your business. Meeting people and explaining the benefits of your business will increase your chances of being picked to move onto the next round. The age old thing of networking and getting to know people is so crucial.

So how do you meet these people? HSCT are good at facilitating this: they offer work package information and "Meet the Buyer" events amongst other activities to support those keen to succeed. You also have to create your own opportunities by possibly hosting and running events that position your business in the best possible light.

Taking a step back, who will your customer be at Hinkley? Perhaps EDF or tier 1 or 2 contractors. What service are you trying to sell in and at what level? Do you want/need to form a joint venture with other local businesses (possibly even competitors)? Why would you do this rather than go it alone? It may be that you don't have the capacity, workforce or expertise to deliver all of the work package or you think it is too risky to take on the size of the contract alone. The Hinkley project is very keen on collaboration and it fits in with the whole ethos of the project. If joint working allows you to meet the contract package requirements, then this to be done then this is encouraged.

If collaboration is key then identify a list of business who you think you can work with whether this is by working through your own contacts or using the Somerset Chamber. This could be someone who has complimentary services to you or someone who offers the same services who can help you with capacity issues.

Once a partner is identified consider whether you need to sign a confidentiality agreement to enable everyone speak freely and share commercial sensitive information.

You will need to create a tangible structure to take to the customer in response to a work package. What corporate form will your joint venture take? Do you want to set up a special purpose company to split your Hinkley business from your usual business? Things to think about include risk sharing, how profits are treated, how the business will operate on a day to day basis i.e. who will decide what and how the venture will be financed. There a multiple options here ranging from (i) a fully integrated joint venture company to (ii) a looser association governed by a contractual co-operation agreement.  All of these options come with pros and cons and which structure is right for you very much depends on your specific requirements. Legal and other professional advice will keep you on the right track.

The key messages are meet people and make friends, plan what you want to achieve and go for it! The tap on the shoulder will probably not find you unless you get out there are make it happen.

Ashfords can facilitate round table discussions to help you identity other businesses to work with, or if you are at the next stage, to help you plan the next steps of collaborative working.

Ashfords regularly advises clients on joint ventures and collaboration agreements. We can assist with setting up the structure for a new venture together with advising on profit sharing, risk allocation, funding, corporate governance and tax. We can assist with your resourcing strategy for example guiding you through the onboarding process required for the highly regulated nuclear industry and understanding the zero harm culture at Hinkley. We can of course also assist with any contractual requirements such as using the NEC3 form of contracts which are used by the supply chain for the majority of its contracting.

Ashfords is a Hinkley Point Supply Chain Professional Services Group (PSG) member.

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