LERWICK based digital marketing agency NB Communication has been picked as the preferred bidder to carry out the Promote Shetland contract for the next five years.
Managing director David Nicol said on Friday said he was “delighted” by the news but stressed that the contract will not be finalised for at least another ten days due to a “standstill” period in the procurement process where the decision could be challenged.
It was confirmed in June that Shetland Amenity Trust, which held the contract for nearly a decade, failed to win the £400,000 a year contract to continue to run the service after it was first tendered – and it has now fallen short for a second time.
Shetland Islands Council, which tendered the contract, said the trust and another bidder failed to meet the “quality standards required” first time around.
Following concern from the public that popular Promote Shetland services such as its webcams and shetland.org might be lost, the council agreed to re-tender the contract.
Nicol said that NB – which developed the current Promote Shetland website – did not bid during the first process but decided to go for the contract when it was re-tendered.
“I’m pleased by the prospect of taking on this challenge,” he said.
“There are still steps in the process to go so I don’t want to get ahead of myself. We’re delighted to receive the news today, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
He added that NB would seek to continue the work done by the amenity trust while at the same time explore “new, exciting different things”.
“A big part of our pitch was that we’re very well placed to build on the really strong foundation that the previous contract holder has built, and we look forward to doing that,” Nicol said.
“But we have also emphasised the need to have good discussions and explore ideas and have collaborations with various different bodies within Shetland to design a service that is in line with their needs,” he said.
“We’re quite open to looking at all possibilities, and we’ve got a fantastic foundation to build on – we certainly won’t want to jeopardise that, but at the same time we might need to look at new, exciting different things. There’s huge potential to do some really cool stuff.”
Nicol was unable to comment on the whether staff who previously worked on the Promote Shetland contract would be transferred over.
SIC development director Neil Grant previously said the “goalposts had changed” with regards to the focus of the service, with less priority on heritage and tourism and more on attracting people to work and invest in the isles.
Amenity Trust vice-chairman George Sutherland said in a statement that the organisation is now keen to see a smooth transition to the new bidder.
“We are obviously disappointed that Shetland Amenity Trust has not been successful in retaining the contract to provide the Promote Shetland service. We believe that we submitted a competent bid that included a number of useful proposals,” he said.
“However, the priority – as far as Shetland’s interests are concerned – is to ensure that there is a smooth transition. To that end, we have already begun preparing for the transfer and look forward to liaising with the new operator as necessary.
“Shetland Amenity Trust has provided the Promote Shetland service for the past eight years and is pleased to have had the opportunity to do so. We believe that we have been successful in raising Shetland’s profile and have been grateful for all the very positive reactions to our work.
“Our role as a trust is about helping to conserve and enhance many of the things that make Shetland such a special place. In that spirit, we shall continue to support, in every way we can, the work being done to encourage people to live, work, visit, study and invest in the islands.”