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How are UK firms preparing their supply chains for Brexit uncertainty?

With the UK scheduled to leave the EU on 31st October, many British firms are bracing their supply chains for change. With high levels of uncertainty,… View Article


How are UK firms preparing their supply chains for Brexit uncertainty?

With the UK scheduled to leave the EU on 31st October, many British firms are bracing their supply chains for change. With high levels of uncertainty, pioneering UK firms are focusing on making their supply chains as resilient as possible.

Many UK firms, and the UK-based operations of multinationals, work closely with EU suppliers. In total, EU suppliers contribute 54% of all goods imported into the UK. Disrupting these close ties will inevitably result in at least short-term unpredictability and volatility for UK supply chains. Supply chain managers recognise that now is the time to begin developing agile, responsive and robust infrastructure; however, the best practise for doing so isn’t always clear. Specialist supply chain consultants recommend a number of strategies, from adjusting inventory tactics to changing product portfolios.

How are UK firms bracing their supply chains for post-Brexit flux?

1.     Reviewing inventory strategies

Many firms have already started preparing for Brexit by readjusting their inventory tactics. One of the primary strategies many UK firms have already adopted in anticipation of post-Brexit volatility is stockpiling. A survey of 1300 supply chain managers from the UK and EU confirmed that they are stockpiling to prepare for a pessimistic Brexit scenario. The result has been positive for UK-based suppliers and manufacturers. Increased stockpiling has limited damage in UK manufacturing activity in the face of weakening demand from both EU and UK clients.

2.     Changing sourcing strategies

It’s inevitable that UK firms who import most of their products and resources from EU suppliers will be hardest hit by Brexit. One of the best preventative measures to take before the 31st October is investigating supplier onshoring opportunities. By working more closely with local suppliers, UK based firms limit the damage that Brexit can do to their supply chains. Another solution is using global suppliers with UK-based footprints.

3.     Adjusting product portfolios

After Brexit, UK-based firms may need to re-develop or tweak their product offerings based on shifting consumer needs and demands. Some firms may even need to change product offerings to accommodate post-Brexit regulatory changes.

4.     Developing a more agile supply chain

The best strategy for dealing with any upcoming disruption to your supply chain is to increase flexibility. In the face of fluctuating consumer demand and supplier uncertainty, a supply chain must be as agile as possible.  Demand forecasting must become a core focus to ensure inventory volume is well managed.

While many forward-thinking firms have already started adopting these strategies, many remain woefully unprepared. For example, a recent study by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) revealed that only a fifth of small UK business have started planning for a no-deal Brexit. With less than a month until the UK is due to leave the EU, it is more vital than ever to start proofing your supply chain for Brexit.

To gain further insights and a greater understanding of how to use technology to create an agile and responsive supply chain, download the free eBook at:

Contributor: Sid Holian is Managing Director of Bis Henderson Consulting, an operating division of Bis Henderson Group.

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