THE annual Gatwick Diamond Meet the Buyers event took place at the Arora Hotel in Crawley.

The event was designed to connect procurement teams from larger organisations with smaller local businesses.

It was deemed a success with 21 buyer organisations and 128 local suppliers taking part. An estimated £1million of business deals will be generated because of the event.

This year’s buyers - many of whom are blue chip corporates - believe it is an efficient way to meet potential suppliers.

Balfour Beatty, Southern Water and West Sussex County Council were among those taking part.

An advisory section was included this year, enabling national and local government representatives to provide guidance on how to secure contracts with public sector organisations.

Seven pre-event seminars were also held across the Gatwick Diamond area, ensuring the local suppliers were prepared for the main sales event.

Rosemary French OBE, executive director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, said: “Meet The Buyers brings companies together united under a common purpose to boost local trade across the Gatwick Diamond.

“It’s great that through this project we’ve been able to demonstrate how using a local supplier can sustain existing jobs and create new ones by helping smaller firms to supply larger organisations.”

Councillor Peter Smith, Cabinet member for planning and economic development at Crawley Borough Council, said: “I’m delighted that Meet the Buyers continues to be such a successful event.

“The Gatwick Diamond economy is going from strength to strength and it’s vital that our businesses are able to trade with each other where possible, keeping money and jobs local.”

Alison Addy, head of community engagement at Gatwick Airport, said: “It’s been excellent to see so many great connections made between buyers and suppliers.”