For many, the kudos that comes with being attached to the Hinkley Point C project and its suppliers delivers far reaching benefits underpinning their business development aspirations.
Yeovil-based IT solutions provider CETSAT has enjoyed steady growth since it was founded in 2001, and even opened a London office 10 years ago in order to properly service its burgeoning client base in the capital.
Further Somerset satellite offices followed, including Bridgwater and Taunton, and when the HPC project began to gather momentum CETSAT’s management team registered their interest in becoming a supplier.
Through various networking events, organised by EDF Energy and Somerset Chamber of Commerce, in 2014 CETSAT was introduced to the fledgling consortium created to supply catering services to HPC, Somerset Larder.
“Today Somerset Larder has about 200 employees, but in the early days the team was only a handful of people,” said Mark Grindrod, Operations Director at CETSAT.
“Once they found out about our capabilities, including our services developing bespoke software, they engaged us to develop an order processing procurement platform which they needed to help with their HPC tender.”
The software provided by CETSAT allowed the various suppliers that make up the Somerset Larder consortium to upload their stock availability – be it dairy produce, meat or baked goods – to give full stock visibility for the HPC-based team to order whatever they needed.
Somerset Larder has since gone on to be one of the HPC supply chain’s big success stories, with the team at CETSAT supporting it throughout its progression.
“It’s been really fun to be a part of,” continued Mark. “As they (Somerset Larder) have grown, so too has the amount of work and services we provide to them.”
In addition to the original procurement software platform CETSAT has also provided a range of IT solutions and infrastructure capabilities including network cabling, firewall installation, CCTV and servers.
Just recently Somerset Larder opened its brand new Central Production Kitchen off-site near Junction 24 where it prepares even more meals to meet demand from the rising number of people working at HPC, with CETSAT on hand to make sure all the IT systems were in place and ready to go.
At peak construction there will be a workforce of 5,600 people to feed and already over 3,000 are working at the HPC site each day.
“Somerset Larder is a fantastic success story,” said Mark, “and we are thrilled to have been able to support such a high-profile project.”
“There’s no doubt that due to the success of our London office there was a perception here that we weren’t interested in working with smaller clients in the South West,” he said.
“However, nothing could be further from the truth. Whilst we have done very well from our London office we are proud to be a Somerset business and we take our experience working for large banks and insurance firms on projects like Canary Wharf and apply those skills to our many clients throughout the South-West.”
He added: “Our involvement with Somerset Larder has definitely helped us to combat that perception and prove we are just as committed to our local clients as to our London business evidenced by the significant contracts we are winning with South West businesses.”
And Mark’s advice for businesses eyeing the HPC project for new business opportunities?
“It’s all about building relationships,” he said. “Engage with the Somerset Chamber and Supply Chain Team and get yourself noticed. Also, don’t go looking for quick wins, because there aren’t any really, so look to be in it for the long haul and never lose sight of what you want to achieve.”