Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced former Tesco CEO Sir David Lewis will become the government’s supply chain adviser.
Lewis, who stepped down from his role at Tesco in September, will chair a new Supply Chain Advisory Group to address the country’s ongoing supply chain crisis.
Lewis will advise the government on immediate action to tackle supply issues and long-term solutions to secure the UK’s supply chains.
Johnson said: “I’m pleased that Sir David Lewis is joining the team who have been working on future-proofing our supply chains across the United Kingdom as we recover from the pandemic.
“There are currently global supply issues which we are working with industry to mitigate and Dave brings a wealth of experience which will help us continue to protect our businesses and supply chains.”
Iceland CEO Richard Walker said on Twitter: “This is exactly what’s needed – a retail expert at the table to help solve the issues.
“I have no doubt Dave will help to get things moving in the right direction.”
Hannah Essex, co-executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the appointment but warned the advisory group must consider the views of SMEs to be effective.
She said: “The increasing pressure that businesses, especially SMEs, are facing around supply chain costs and disruption, labour shortages, price rises, soaring energy bills and taxes is becoming dire.”
The appointment comes as the Office for National Statistics found 61% of shoppers noticed less variety on shelves due to supply chain disruptions.
The ONS also found 17% of adults could not buy some of the grocery products they needed, and a further 23% reported shortages of other essential non-food items.
Meanwhile, Asos and Kraft Heinz have become the latest firms to warn of the impact of disruption.
Asos warned it could see profits fall by £110-£140m, or 40%, in 2022 due to labour shortages and wage inflation, and higher inbound freight and outbound delivery costs.
Asos has witnessed increased lead times between the UK and EU as a result of Brexit, with additional customs requirements and checks, it said.
Mat Dunn, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, said: “Looking ahead, while our performance in the next 12 months is likely to be constrained by demand volatility and global supply chain and cost pressures, we are confident in our ability to capture the sizeable opportunities ahead.”
Meanwhile Miguel Patricio, CEO of Kraft Heinz, told the BBC customers should be prepared for food price rises.
He said: “We are raising prices, where necessary, around the world.”
He said rises were due to HGV driver and labour shortages in the UK, and rising logistics costs in the US.
However, he said rising costs could not be passed onto customers alone, and that businesses would need to absorb some of these costs.
“I think it's up to us and to the industry and to the other companies to try to minimise these price increases,” he said.
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