heather_hancock_deloitte_25-07-11Perfect timing is the goal of any athlete and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games have certainly timed it well for British business.

In the challenging aftermath of the global financial crises, businesses of all shapes and sizes have welcomed the supply opportunities thrown up by an event often characterised as the biggest logistical exercise a country can undertake in peacetime. London 2012 related contracts worth more than £3.5 billion ($5.7 billion/€4 billion) have already been awarded to 950 different businesses.

While the timing was perfect, these opportunities were not served on a plate. The businesses that benefited prepared well and acted quickly.

The race, however, is not yet fully run. With one year to go until the start of the Games, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is still to procure more than £700 million ($1.1 billion/€793 million) worth of goods and services. Six hundred or so pre-Games training camps are also still to be arranged and these will be held across the country.

When show time finally arrives, VisitBritain estimates the potential additional spending by visitors resulting from the Games at over £2 billion (£3.3 billion/€2.3 billion), providing another welcome source of extra demand for local businesses.

These visitors will not just be tourists and sports fans. As the world's best athletes strive for gold in the Olympic Park, a diverse array of National Olympic Committees, sports federations, Heads of State, corporate sponsors, their guests and customers will descend on the UK capital, along with other venues as far apart as Glasgow and Weymouth.

No wonder that research recently commissioned by Deloitte found that 41 per cent of companies in the tourism, hospitality and leisure sector were expecting an increase in demand for their services.

Substantial as they are, however, the benefits for British businesses of staging the Games will not solely be short-term in nature.

It has already provided a massive reputational boost for the UK construction industry as a result of the skill and efficiency with which contractors have set about the gargantuan task of creating the Olympic Park. In June this year, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg led a trade mission to Brazil to promote the skills and track record of companies helping to stage the Games, including a significant focus on the construction and engineering contractors.

The Games have also given a clear push forward to Britain's already formidable events and marketing industry. It has opened doors in fast-developing economies such as Russia and Brazil, which will stage, respectively, the Sochi 2014 Winter Games and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

As the official professional services provider to London 2012, Deloitte is also using the Olympic and Paralympic Games to drive growth.

The Olympic project has given us an opportunity to demonstrate our expertise through a large-scale event of such universal appeal. For example, Drivers Jonas Deloitte will be project managing the construction of both the beach volleyball facility at Horse Guards Parade and the equestrian venue at Greenwich Park. This is a challenging assignment, since it involves creating temporary Olympic Games-calibre venues from scratch on sensitive heritage sites and reinstating those sites afterwards.

The Games also offer an effective tool for inspiring existing Deloitte employees and attracting the highest-possible calibre of job applicants. The value of the Olympic Games has already been demonstrated through a major impact on recruitment and retention. Many of our people have had the opportunity to work with LOCOG and other Olympic bodies either through secondments or on advisory projects. These roles have been highly sought-after with around 10 per cent of the entire firm having applied for a LOCOG secondment role whilst our sponsorship is often cited as a reason to join the firm in job interviews.

While the Olympic and Paralympic Closing Ceremonies will rightly celebrate the achievements of the athletes, it should also provide an opportunity to celebrate the growth that London 2012 has delivered.

Heather Hancock is lead London 2012 partner at Deloitte.