GPS boss stands up to equipment supplier critics

David Shields, managing director of the Government Procurement Service (GPS), is set to come face to face with catering equipment suppliers next week for the first time since agreeing to re-examine the process for public sector tenders.

Shields will speak at next week’s annual CESA conference, where he will address more than 200 members of the industry in what is likely to be one of the event’s most eagerly-awaited presentations.

The GPS has attracted strong criticism from the catering equipment market this year following the introduction of a new public sector tendering process.

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Out of 31 separate manufacturers to submit tenders, Hobart was the only company to proceed to the award stage, where it was successful in three Lots.

The catering framework was one of the first tenders delivered on the new e-sourcing system, but was overshadowed by complaints from suppliers that it was overly complex and requested excessive levels of information.

A recent meeting between CESA and Shields in the wake of the tender result led to the GPS agreeing that the qualifying process would be re-examined for future tenders.

Although there will not be any immediate changes to the current process, the GPS has offered to help catering equipment companies who were unsuccessful in tendering for a place on the framework agreement this year by working with them on a “one to one basis”.

In addition, the GPS and CESA plan to organise joint training seminars to help companies to submit compliant proposals.

Shields is one of a number of high level keynote speakers booked for next week’s CESA conference at Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire.

Other confirmed names include futurist Rohit Talwar, Sodexho Group general director Sir Garry Hawkes CBE, Peach Factory owner Peter Martin and Simon Stenning from research house Allegra Strategies.

The CESA annual conference takes place on 15-16 November.

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