The contract notice was posted just before Christmas. It relates to future polymer supply for the £5 and £10 notes, which are already polymer, and for the coming polymer £50 note.
The Bank of England currently uses two suppliers of banknote polymer: main supplier CCL Secure (formerly Innovia Films) and De La Rue, which won a share of the requirements for the new £20 polymer note that will go into circulation next year.
The contract notice said the Bank intended to establish a Framework Agreement with “several operators”.
“The Framework Agreement will provide for an initial period of development (including pre-production trials) and then continue for approximately 96 months,” it said.
“Future banknote volumes and contract values are difficult to forecast given that they are dependent on future public demand for banknotes. The Authority estimates that polymer substrate may be required for up to 2.5bn banknotes over the life of the Framework Agreement.”
Access to further information contained in the procurement documents is restricted to suppliers that meet the Bank of England’s requirements in terms of security and confidentiality. “The Authority places significant importance on the supplier meeting its technical specifications for the polymer substrate and implementing robust quality management, security and business continuity processes,” the Bank stated.
Banknote polymer consists of a 100% biaxially orientated polypropylene film and printed opacification layers, proven to be suitable for banknote printing.
The length of the contract is necessary “to allow investment in technical infrastructure and R&D to amortise over a reasonable period and secure supply in a niche market.”
The deadline is 25 January and the Bank of England expects to issue invitations to tender or to participate at the beginning of February.
The polymer £50 will be issued after the £20. It will have a science theme and the Bank received 227,299 nominations from members of the public when it called for input last year on who should be the new face of the banknote. This list has been narrowed down to 991 potential candidates, with the chosen person due to be announced over the summer.