Landmark Year for Key Education Supplier

ESPO has grown from humble beginnings into one of the largest public sector buying organisations in the country, supplying more than 20,000 customers across the UK – including schools, police forces, councils and the NHS and this year ESPO celebrates its 40th birthday.


The business employs more than 300 people and supports £2.4billion of public sector spending every year. During the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s helped to distribute vital PPE to front line workers and emergency care packages to vulnerable people.


ESPO’s Chief Officer Kristian Smith said: “Going above and beyond for our customers is what we’ve always done and will continue to do. We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved over the past 40 years and it’s right that we celebrate it.”


ESPO is 100% owned by six local authority members including Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Peterborough City Council. Any operating surplus is returned to the public purse to help fund key services – resulting in a total reinvestment of more than £5m every year.


ESPO was set up in 1981 to help its member authorities buy everything they need – from stationery to multi-million pound contracts. Since then, the organisation has developed into a ‘one-stop shop’ offering everyday essentials and specialist services to public sector customers nationwide. The ESPO catalogue lists more than 25,000 different products and is a staple in thousands of schools across the country.


From their purpose-built warehouse and head office in Leicester, the ESPO team pick, pack and deliver more than 35,000 items every day helping to keep public sector services running smoothly.


ESPO also operates more than 100 framework solutions – recruiting a huge range of trusted suppliers centrally, so that public sector customers don’t have to duplicate this work, providing time and money saving benefits. Over the years the ESPO team have provided everything from energy and food services, to temporary staffing solutions, which has delivered 35million hours of work to the public sector, equivalent to 21,000 fulltime positions.


ESPO’s breadth and range has surpassed expectations over its 40 year history and continues to innovate and improve it’s offering to meet the ever changing needs of the public sector.