Supply chain risk in the UK is falling

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
24 May 2021

Supply chain risk in the UK has fallen because a no-deal Brexit was avoided and lockdown restrictions are easing, according to Dun & Bradstreet.

Markus Kuger, chief economist at D&B, said 46% of UK firms were still disrupted by the pandemic “in one way or another”, but that was down on “much higher figures” at the end of 2020.

Speaking at the CIPS Breakfast Briefing on Managing Risk in Procurement and Supply, Kuger said: “Supply chain risk in the UK has fallen since late 2020.”

But he added: “The pandemic, despite things improving, is still having an impact.”

Kuger, listing risks the country faced, said in the first quarter of 2021 EU imports to the UK dropped by around 22% quarter-on-quarter, with exports to the EU falling 18%.

“Brexit has weighed on supply chain integrity in the UK,” he said.

“Some companies have decided it’s just not viable any more to conduct trade between the EU and the UK.”

Kuger said the UK faced underlying risk from “relatively poor infrastructure quality”, with road and air transport positioned 36th in a global competitiveness ranking and rail 31st.

He also pointed to risk around lorry driver numbers, with half of the 300,000-strong workforce over the age of 50, a lack of young people entering the profession, a backlog in new licences due to Covid and the departure of foreign workers for the same reason.

“Over the medium to long run this is certainly something that will cause more supply chain disruption,” he said. “It causes problems for logistics companies already and eventually it will cause problems for companies as well as consumers.”

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