Brexit concerns loom large, despite businesses doing all they can to prepare

Fears over Brexit appear to be increasing businesses’ perception of the risks in their supply chain, despite evidence suggesting many have taken steps to ready themselves for a post-Brexit environment, a new report has found.

The Q2 2018 Global Supply Chain Risk Report, published today (20 August) by Cranfield School of Management and Dun & Bradstreet, investigated the level of actual and perceived supply chain risk faced by European companies with international supplier relationships.

It found that businesses in several sectors seem to be taking measures to reduce their supply chain risk but, despite this, many feel they are still in jeopardy due to a heavy reliance on critical or key suppliers. Overall, the report found supplier criticality increased two per cent in Q2 2018, making a total of a 12 per cent increase over the past three quarters.

Dr Heather Skipworth, senior lecturer in logistics, procurement and supply chain management at Cranfield, said: “Supplier criticality is the only risk metric used in the report that relies on perception rather than ‘hard’ numbers, and it is interesting to see the different story it shows. It looks like the continuing uncertainty surrounding Brexit is feeding buying companies’ perceptions of an increasing level of dependency on their suppliers, despite the fact that the other metrics suggest several sectors are taking significant action to reduce their supply chain risk.

“As the March 2019 deadline approaches, it appears the uncertainty around the tariffs, barriers and trade agreements that will impact supply chain relationships is more and more in the forefront of businesses’ minds.”

The quarterly Global Supply Chain Risk Report uses four key metrics – supplier criticality, supplier financial risk, global sourcing risk, and foreign exchange risk – to assess overall supply chain risk and provides businesses with a view of trends within their industry sector and across the wider economy. By analysing trends by sector, the report highlights areas for monitoring and consideration in procurement decisions.

Analysis in the Q2 2018 report was carried out using proprietary commercial data supplied by Dun & Bradstreet, which included around 500,000 anonymous transactions between European buyers and their suppliers located in more than 150 countries worldwide.

In the manufacturing sector, although global sourcing risk and foreign exchange risk continued to increase in Q2 2018 (by 1.4 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively), the rate of increase slowed dramatically, and supplier financial risk remained static at 23.3 per cent. This could be as a result of concerted action to mitigate against perceived risks, a narrative supported by a two per cent increase through Q2 in perceived reliance on critical suppliers.

“The data continues to show a variance in supply chain risk across different industry sectors,” explains Chris Laws, head of Product Development – Supply & Compliance at Dun & Bradstreet. “With an increasingly complex and uncertain environment, businesses that analyse and monitor their supply chain closely can take steps to identify and help mitigate risk to protect their business and plan ahead.”

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