CCS rethinks £400m electronics framework and ditches exclusive lots to encourage SMEs

Government procurement agency goes back to the drawing board for three-year deal covering a wide range of peripherals, office tech and stationery which will now feature only two multi-supplier lots

Government has gone back to the drawing board and relaunched a £400m framework for electronics and other office supplies, after deciding that the plan to award lots exclusively to single suppliers would limit competition and preclude small businesses.

The incumbent Office Supplies framework is due to expire in April after four years. The deal features two single-supplier lots, covering office stationery and electronics, and electronics only. These lots are respectively served by Banner Group and XMA, both of which also feature on a third multi-supplier lot, alongside nine other provides of stationery and office tech.

A procurement notice published by the Crown Commercial Service in July outlined the buying agency’s intention to create a replacement framework structured identically to the current deal.

But newly published commercial information reveals that, in mid-August, “the procurement process was paused prior to the submission of tenders [and] following this date an internal review of the framework was undertaken”.

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This review led to CCS deciding to ditch the single-supplier lots and bidding has now opened for an Office Solutions framework that features only two lots, respectively addressing stationery and electronics, and electronics only. Both of these segments will feature multiple providers.

“The policy intent behind this decision is to increase competition, open the market opportunity – particularly for small and medium enterprises – and thereby drive value for money outcomes for buyers,” a commercial notice said. “The new framework will therefore consist of two multi-supplier lots… under which buyers will be able to consider calling off contracts via further competition or direct award .”

Products covered by the buying vehicle include: computing peripherals and storage; ink, paper, and toner; replacement parts for office machines; photographic equipment; GPS technology; stationery; textbooks; cleaning products; catering items; and first-aid kits.

The deal is scheduled to run for an initial term of three years, and is estimated to be worth up to £400m plus VAT to the chosen suppliers.

Bidding is open until 15 January and CCS plans to award both lots via an e-auction process.

Sam Trendall

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