Oct 11, 2021

UK Establishes Supply Chain Advisory Group Amid Major Crisis

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Sir David Lewis will act as supply chain advisor to the UK government and establish a new Supply Chain Advisory Group to protect against future disruption

The UK Government has appointed Sir David Lewis as its supply chain advisor as the nation’s supply chain crisis rages on. 

Lewis will advise the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on both immediate improvements and long-term changes to strengthen the UK’s supply chains and mitigate the risk of perpetuating disruption. 

In a statement the government said: “Building on the current government approach, he will work closely with industry to improve government access to data and build the most effective methods into future responses to blockages.”

Lewis, formerly chief executive of Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket group, will also co-chair a new Supply Chain Advisory Group and a new Industry Taskforce, aimed at combining external experts and the voices of industry leaders to air their concerns and advise on practical and efficient resolutions. 

“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,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“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.”

Lewis begins the new role today, 11 October, and will be based out of the Cabinet Office, working closely with the Prime Minister, No10 and the Treasury. 

UK’s Shortages Hit Hard 

Both the UK public and businesses have faced major challenges in recent months, including a shortage of foodstuffs and fuel. The impact of Brexit has left a major hole in the nation’s labour force, particularly in haulage and warehousing, with migrant workers unable to secure visas or being forced to move on due to the loss of freedom of movement. 

The government said it has "acted quickly to introduce a series of measures to relieve pressure on vital supply chains, including by streamlining the testing process for HGV drivers, creating skills bootcamps to train up HGV drivers, as well as introducing short-term visas for fuel drivers, food haulage drivers and poultry workers to ease pressures facing these supply chains."

But supply chain disruption are also impacting some of the UK’s most established retailers. Nick Beighton, CEO of online fashion retailer ASOS, today stepped down from the company after it issued a gloomy profit warning, citing Brexit duty, freight costs, labour issues and other supply chain disruptions. 

The difficulties have been compounded by the global reverberations of COVID-19, port closures and an unprecedented number of one-off events, such as the Suez Canal blockage back in March. 

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