April 09 2020

Will COVID-19 change the way Supply-Chains work permanently?

The Importance of Supply-Chain Stability

The last few weeks have exposed the importance of rapid response to unpredictable disruptions, and the UK’s supply chain has been incredibly proactive in handling these disturbances.

Retailers and distributors alike have altered the way they work to maintain the supply of goods; closures have sparked a response of direct customer deliveries, and the government has temporarily permitted the sharing of warehouses and inventories so companies can collaborate to reach those in need.

We recently published some research on supply chain constraints which you can read here, as it explores how businesses are changing and looking to become more resilient and efficient.

Flexibility and Resilience

Brakes Scotland announced that they have over 600 care packages to be delivered to the most vulnerable people across Scotland. Foodservice Wholesaler, Bidfood UK also announced last week that they are joining forces with Brakes to assist in their efforts, which goes to show the resilience and flexibility of supply chain businesses in times of crisis.

As Supply Chains are facing challenges on every level, it is critical for communication between and collaborative measures to be taken as swiftly as possible, and these businesses and their workers are most certainly rising to the challenge.

Furthermore, Pharmacies and Supermarkets are prioritising delivery slots for those who need medicines and essential supplies the most, and as we already have seen, supermarket employees are working tirelessly to both make their shops as safe as possible, and keep providing the UK’s population with their essentials as efficiently as possible.

Dunsters Farm is now, along with many distributors, delivering direct to doors, avoiding the widespread disorder to normal workflow and adapting quickly to provide for their customers.

Similarly, the Welsch Wholesaler, Castell Howells Foods lost 80% of its customers due to closures across the country, but has managed to mitigate damage and alter operations through a click & collect system, while working with the NHS and councils to sustain the flow of products.

Their Operations Director, Matt Lewis told reporters;

“We supply hospitals, medical staff and some patients," he said. "We are delivering bulk products to various hubs in Wales. We have got plenty of vehicles."


Dynamic responses like this example are occurring all across the UK, and a huge thank you to every essential worker, business and Industry helping to sustain a sense of normal life in these uncertain times is definitely in need.

Will Business change permanently after the crisis?

The FWD suggested recently that these disruptions and the subsequent transition to reactionary business models may become permanent changes. They spoke with a number of wholesalers who made statements such as;

“What we want to do is work with all our local producers in the north-west and would love to offer a local delivery service of some really nice local products with great provenance. We see this is a long-term thing, not just a Covid-19 thing.”

The Industry-wide outlook that COVID-19 has catalysed the transition to more flexible and more business-proof ways of operating is no doubt a long-term option to protecting businesses from unpredictable disruptions.

On a final note, Joe Bellini, Chief Operating Office at One Network Enterprises, suggested this need for futureproofing, as he stated;

“Resilience needs to be permanently architected into the supply network topology”

- Supplychainbeyond.com

For more Industry news, innovations and changes, click here.

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