Small Businesses Lining Up for a Bonanza from 2012 Olympics; ANALYSIS

Article excerpt

Byline: Matthew Beard

IN THE implausible event that supermarket sweep were to be made an Olympic sport at London 2012, the host nation would have a genuine gold medal contender.

As commercial director of the Games organising committee, Locog, Chris Townsend is powering up his shopping trolley to amass a daunting array of items as preparations gear up for the equivalent of 26 simultaneous world championships within little over two weeks.

On the shopping list over the coming months are anything from podiums to whistles and modern pentathlon horses (plus feed and temporary stabling), to thousands of security personnel.

Tenders will be published on a dedicated website for [pounds sterling]250 million of business next year, with further contracts totalling [pounds sterling]450million either already awarded or being negotiated.

Townsend said: "2011 will essentially be our Olympic year in terms of procurement, 95% will be done by the end of the year."

The commercial director who, before joining Locog was group marketing director of Transport for London, where he launched the now-ubiquitous Oyster card, admitted he was surprised by the sheer scope of the project. "I didn't realise until recently that we actually procure the horses. I hope we can get them free of charge completely and have our logo branded on them."

This equine approach might not amount to horse-trading but it certainly reflects a hard-nosed ploy in Locog's commercial department that borrows from the spirit of the trading floors among the organisation's Canary Wharf neighbours (Locog is tenant at Barclays' towering global headquarters, Churchill Place). Once a preferred supplier is identified, Locog's negotiators then try to knock down the cash price by offering promotional rights to the Olympic brand. It is a method that has already persuaded 19 companies paying [pounds sterling]10million-plus in cash and value-inkind to be official suppliers. These include engineering firm Atkins, law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and CBS Outdoor, which has donated acres of poster space on the Tube and on buses for the Olympic ticket registration campaign. …