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The charity making life better by water

Selling to the Canal & River Trust

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

The guide also tells you about our business, the type of goods and services we buy, and how we buy them.

Main areas of expenditure

  • Construction, and civil and mechanical engineering
  • Dredging
  • Vegetation management and environmental services
  • Property maintenance and facilities management
  • Mechanical and electrical maintenance
  • Information and communications
  • Technology
  • Professional services – technical/legal/financial
  • Marketing and communication services, including fundraising, direct marketing, customer contact and customer insight
  • Construction
  • Materials
  • Crane, plant and tool hire
  • Operational goods and services
  • Corporate services and supplies

Group procurement contracts

The majority of contracts of significant value or complexity are let by our Procurement Team. The Procurement Team are 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 our goods, works and services.

The team work closely with colleagues in other departments to ensure that, having put contracts in place, those contracts actually deliver the benefits and outcomes envisaged at their outset.

How we 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 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 – we will generally advertise in the Official Journal of The European Union, with the European Union directly or via Achilles Information Ltd.
  • Other goods and services – we 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 for further information. Where we use a two-stage procedure, we will issue a Pre-qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) to enable applicants to be shortlisted before being invited to tender.

When issuing an Invitation to Tender, we will be as explicit as possible in specifying our needs. For example, our quality, technical capability/specification, delivery and timescales, and where applicable we will also include technical and commercial questionnaires. All invitations will also include our terms and conditions of contract.


We use 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 our offices for the purpose of clarifying aspects of a bid, or may also involve a visit by one of our 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 our 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 we have completed the evaluation of Invitations to Tender and reached a decision, we will inform the successful and unsuccessful bidders in writing without delay.

Approved suppliers

We do 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

We are committed to using electronic tools in support of our procurement activity and have developed an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) program for the purpose of trading electronically with suppliers. We operate a purchase order mandatory policy, whereby official purchase orders will be issued by the ERP system in respect of all purchases. 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, as a PDF attachment.

Prompt payment policy

We are 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 us 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 one of our contracts, 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 us. We try 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. We understand the difficulties that SMEs can experience in dealing with large organisations and therefore have designed our procurement procedure to help SMEs engage more easily with us.

Last Edited: 21 December 2020

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