AN annual match-making day that last year generated business deals worth an estimated £6.25 million will be opened by Hampshire’s newest MP tomorrow.

Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton will welcome visitors to South Hampshire Meet the Buyer at the Ageas Bowl, near Hedge End.

Now in its seventh year, the event is designed to give companies a face-to-face chance to pitch for work from major buyers, including public organisations.

It is coordinated by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce in partnership with six local authorities.

Denise Barlow, Hampshire Chamber’s head of communication and marketing, said: “We already have a record number of private sector buyers attending, 22 as opposed to 18 last year. On the public sector side, we’re delighted that Portsmouth City Council has joined the list of local authorities taking part.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for suppliers to promote their goods, products and services to major organisations, both public and private, that operate in and around the region. The event also helps SMEs understand public sector purchasing policies and routes into the supply chain.”

Around 110 suppliers participated last year in more than 726 pre-arranged across-the-table meetings.

The estimated value of resulting deals was £6.25 million, more than £2 million up on the previous year.

In collaboration with Southampton Solent University, this year’s event features a specially designed software package for matching suppliers to buyers.

It is being provided by students at the university’s creative services agency, Solent Creatives, under a business support project called 5+5.

The local authorities involved in this year’s Meet the Buyer are Winchester, Hampshire, Portsmouth, New Forest, Eastleigh and Test Valley.