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FAQs - About ESPO

What is ESPO?

ESPO is one of the UK's largest Professional Buying Organisations (PBO). It's customer focused organisation owned by the Public Sector. We're committed to delivering best value to our customers, suppliers and local communities, including:

  • Local Authorities
  • Central Government Agencies and Ministries
  • The NHS and Emergency Services (Blue Light Services)
  • The Education Sector (Schools, Academies, Colleges and Universities)
  • Registered Charities
  • Registered Social Landlords

ESPO was established in 1981 to provide a comprehensive procurement service to its member authorities. We now operate from a state-of-the-art 120,000 sq ft distribution facility where more than 350 staff are dedicated to providing customers with a rapid and efficient service. Our philosophy throughout this time has been to deliver cost savings to customers by offering more choice, quality and best value.

Where is ESPO located?

The majority of ESPO staff, work from our 120,000 sq ft offices and distribution centre in Leicester, however to enable us to offer a fast and efficient nationwide service we also have a distribution centre in Wales.


Head office & distribution centre

ESPO (Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation)
Barnsdale Way
Grove Park
LE19 1ES

Welsh distribution centre

Unit 8, Cwmtillery Industrial Estate
South Wales
NP13 1LZ

How does ESPO recover its costs?

ESPO is owned by the public sector through seven local authorities and is self funding, any profit made from our trading or procurement activities covers our running costs and allows us to invest in procurement services that all aspects of the public sector can benefit from. Any income made over and above this is returned back the public sector via our members.

We recover our costs in one of two ways:

  • A retrospective rebate payable from our suppliers, in proportion to the framework usage. The aggregated demand of all our customers, and the high use of our frameworks, enables the rebate to be set at a very low level, averaging less than 1% of framework turnover. You will not be charged any additional membership, subscription or other fees for accessing or using our frameworks, neither do we have any minimum spend or usage levels.
  • Requirements for client specific procurement will be discussed with you and a fee would be payable by the customer based upon our estimates of the cost involved in undertaking the procurement. This is a transparent process and the fee would be agreed with you in advance. The combination of our existing level of expertise, together with our not-for-profit status, results in us being able to offer a highly competitive service.

Who owns ESPO?

ESPO is owned and governed by a consortium of six member authorities.

These are:

  • Leicestershire County Council
  • Norfolk County Council
  • Lincolnshire County Council
  • Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Warwickshire County Council
  • Peterborough City Council
Each member authority elects a representative who will sit on ESPO’s board of governors. It is the role of this board, along with ESPO’s director, to make key decisions over how ESPO operates.

How do I contact ESPO?

The quickest  and easiest way to contact ESPO is to visit our contact page and then choose the option that best describes your enquiry; you will then be presented with a number of contact options which are best suited to your particular enquiry.

What makes ESPO able to create compliant frameworks?

The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 designate some organisations as “Central Purchasing Bodies”. ESPO is classed as a “Central Purchasing Body” which means:

A contracting authority which -
(a)  acquires goods or services intended for one or more contracting authorities;
(b)  awards public contracts intended for one or more contracting authorities; or
(c)   concludes framework agreements for work, works, goods or services intended for one or more contracting authorities;

In regard to Central Purchasing Bodies (1) A contracting authority may purchase work, works, goods or services from or through a central purchasing body, and (2) Where a contracting authority makes purchases in accordance with paragraph (1), it shall be deemed to have complied with these Regulations to the extent that the Central Purchasing Body has complied with them.


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