Selling to the Canal & River Trust

This guide is to advise suppliers on how they can sell their products and services to the Trust.

The guide also tells you about Canal & River Trust business, the type of goods and services it buys and how it buys them.

Main areas of expenditure

  • Construction/Civil & Mechanical Engineering
  • Dredging
  • Vegetation Management & Environmental Services
  • Property Maintenance / Facilities Management
  • Mechanical & Electrical Maintenance
  • Information & Communications
  • Technology
  • Professional Services – Technical / Legal / Financial
  • Marketing & Communication Services (including Fundraising, Direct Marketing, Customer Contact & Customer Insight)
  • Construction
  • Materials
  • Crane, Plant & Tool Hire
  • Operational goods & services
  • Corporate services & supplies

Group procurement contracts

The majority of contracts of significant value or complexity are let by the Procurement Team. The Procurement Team is also responsible for the provision of policy, standards and best practice advice, support for specific procurement projects, as well as much of the contract management of goods, works and services in the organisation.

We work closely with colleagues in other parts of the Trust to ensure that, having put contracts in place, they actually deliver the benefits and outcomes envisaged at their outset.

How does Canal & River Trust select suppliers?

Whilst only subject to the European Union (EU) procurement directives, and the regulations that implement them in the UK, for a very small percentage of our expenditure, most large value contracts for the Trust are let by competitive tender/in accordance with best procurement practice, and in certain instances, we may choose to comply in full with the aforementioned regulations.

Advertisements and Invitations to Tender

In the vast majority of cases, we will advertise contract opportunities by way of the following means:

  • Works and site services – the Trust will generally advertise in the Official Journal of The European Union and utilise the Utilities Vendor Database (UVDB) as a Qualification System.  The Trust will also generally utilise the associated UVDB Verify assessment and pre-qualification systems that are operated on our behalf by Achilles Information Ltd. As such, the best way for any contractor or site services provider to become eligible to work directly for us (or UK utilities) is to maintain registration/pre-qualification via the UVDB and also undertake the UVDB Verify assessment process.
  • Other goods and services – the Trust will generally advertise high value contracts of this kind by way of local, national or trade publications and/or this website.

In either case, expressions of interest will be invited for pre-qualification purposes and those companies who qualify after the initial selection process will be invited to tender.

Advertisements and tender documents will always give a contact point from which to obtain further information. Where Canal & River Trust uses a two stage procedure, it will issue a Pre-qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) to enable applicants to be shortlisted before being invited to tender. When issuing an Invitation to Tender, Canal & River Trust will be as explicit as possible in specifying its needs, for example, quality, technical capability/specification, delivery and timescales and where applicable Canal & River Trust also includes technical and commercial questionnaires. All invitations will also include the Canal & River Trust Terms and Conditions of contract.


Canal & River Trust uses a formal evaluation process, to identify the supplier(s) who will provide the best overall value for money for the particular purchase, which is not necessarily the lowest price. Tender proposals will be subjected to a thorough evaluation. This may result in an award of contract or it may produce a short-list of the most promising technical and commercial offers requiring further assessment.

Short-listed tenderers may be further requested to clarify their bids or provide additional information in support of their proposals. Further assessment of short-listed tenders may include attendance at Canal & River Trust's offices for the purpose of clarifying aspects of a bid or may also involve a visit by Canal & River Trust's representatives to any relevant facilities operated by the tenderer. In each case, tenderers will be responsible for their own costs.

Short-listed bidders may be asked to provide a presentation which may be held on either the suppliers' or Canal & River Trust premises.

All procurements are conducted in a fair and open manner. Records are made at all stages in order that the procedure is fully auditable.  A panel from relevant disciplines is formed to evaluate higher value tenders.


When Canal & River Trust has completed the evaluation of Invitations to Tender and reached a decision it will inform the successful and unsuccessful bidders in writing without delay.

Approved suppliers

The Trust does not hold an approved supplier list, but with low value orders for goods and services, which are not available through existing contracts and framework agreements, the following will be used to identify potential sources of supply:

  • existing suppliers
  • suppliers' catalogues
  • trade information
  • market knowledge.

Enterprise resource planning system

Canal & River Trust is committed to using electronic tools in support of its procurement activity and has developed an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) program for the purpose of trading electronically with suppliers. Canal & River Trust operates a purchase order mandatory policy, whereby official purchase orders will be issued by the ERP system in respect of all purchases it makes. This ensures that every invoice received can be matched to a purchase order and to the corresponding goods or services. Suppliers will need to have the capacity to accept purchase orders from the ERP system, via email, on a PDF attachment.

Prompt payment policy

Canal & River Trust is committed to paying suppliers in accordance with our agreed contract terms which are normally 30 days from the end of the month of invoice. In order to meet contractual obligations, it is important that your invoice provides the details required for Canal & River Trust to match it to the original order/contract. In particular, it is essential that you provide all information requested on the purchase order or as specified in the contract. If any of this information is missing, it may delay payment.

Where the supplier lets a subcontract in connection with a Canal & River Trust contract then it should include similar prompt payment terms to the above in respect of payments to the subcontractor.

Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

There are increasing opportunities for SMEs to do business with the Canal & River Trust which tries to ensure that companies are invited to tender for work, which is compatible with their capacity and capabilities.

Where appropriate, requirements are divided into smaller lots to encourage participation by SMEs. Canal & River Trust understands the difficulties that SMEs can experience in dealing with large organisations and therefore have designed its procurement procedure to help SMEs engage more easily with the Canal & River Trust.

Last date edited: 18 November 2020