Kevin Bell

Partner, Centigo UK

Post COVID-19, Recovery of Supply Chains

Jun 1, 2020 9:00:00 PM

Not since the shocking events of 9/111 have global supply chains been so systematically and unceremoniously devastated. No one could foresee the actions that unfolded that day which, within just twenty-four hours, brought air travel to a halt, locked down countries within their own borders and brought to a virtual standstill trading in all but the most vertically integrated businesses. Fortunately, the cause was quickly identified, contained and with the ongoing acceptance of some restrictions on our personal freedoms while travelling abroad normality quickly resumed. By contrast, COVID-19 has proven itself to be a tougher enemy. It is harder to contain, has shown contempt for international boundaries, market sectors or the size of businesses it affects. To deal with its transmission the UK has been on lockdown since 23rd March 2020. At best, for all but essential front-line workers, this has meant transferring all business operations to a “virtual world” involving aspects of self-isolation, social distancing and remote team working. In the extreme, it has meant the systematic mothballing of all business operations, temporary closure of business premises and the furloughing or in some cases complete loss of staff. Whilst devastating enough, the process of lockdown is nowhere near as complicated and difficult to navigate as that of returning a business and its supply chain to full trading status in the uncertain times of the “new normal” that now surrounds us.

Every business has been affected by COVID-19 and will continue to feel its impact for the foreseeable future as we emerge from the shadow it has cast. In preparation for releasing the lockdown in the UK, the Government has recently issued a sixty-page document entitled “OUR PLAN TO REBUILD: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy”. More industry specific guidelines are emerging123 with the passage of time, others will follow. Informative though these are and while useful as internal guidelines for allowing returning staff to work safely they are not in any way a definitive toolkit to enable a business to create a roadmap through the difficulties that will allow it to re-establish its essential supply base and get back to full competitiveness in the marketplace.   

So, accepting that the available guidance and advice is barely sufficient, how can a business create a workable roadmap to return it and its suppliers to a full-trading position as quickly as possible with the minimum risk given the constraints it now faces?

“Companies don't compete; supply chains compete.”

- Frank Dunn, CEO Nortel

As an OEM5 you will inevitably have the risk of a tail of suppliers who are themselves at various stages of readiness to emerge from COVID-19 and provide you with the synchronicity of supply of goods and services you enjoyed before lockdown. If you are a supplier in the tiers below the OEM’s then you will have the dual challenge of matching the demand signals from your OEM customer as well as synchronising your own inbound supply chain from perhaps even smaller suppliers who may now no longer exist. In short, whether you create the drumbeat in the supply chain or respond to it, the problems you are about to have to face are complex, difficult and will need considerable expertise to de-risk. Here at Centigo, we have 300+ consultants who are highly qualified, well trained and deeply experienced across a wide range of industries that can be deployed rapidly to help you put your business and suppliers back to work in a safe, structured and compliant manner. Members of our team successfully helped many businesses, large and small, restore their supply chain capability after the crisis of 9/11 and we can therefore quickly:

  • Mobilize to help provide you with an authoritative, independent understanding your current post-lockdown business position and readiness to start your supply chain recovery journey.
  • Review your current supplier readiness/supplier management processes using well-proven, advanced diagnostic tools to identify and correct risks, issues, gaps, exclusions, points of friction, etc.
  • Help you to create a detailed, robust “return to market” action plan and help you to put in place any corrective actions resulting from the diagnostic assessment.
  • Support you through the “return to market” ramp-up with any necessary procedural, process and cultural changes that you will of necessity have to make going forwards.
  • Work with you to help you understand for the immediate future what strategy, process, procedure, people and technology enablers you can leverage to address your changed needs and the needs of your customers in their changed markets.
  • Support your business during ramp-up and beyond to ensure you have access to the necessary trained, experienced professionals who can quickly answer your questions and help de-risk your journey.


Every business is, of course, quite different and will need the structure above tailoring to meet your specific needs. Getting back to work will need the application of different skills and expertise depending on your market sector. To find out how Centigo can help you successfully return to competitiveness quickly and safely please feel free to contact us.

Contact Kevin Bell

Read the first article on COVID-19

  1. 11th September 2001
  2. Factories, plants and warehouses
  3. Construction and other outdoor work
  4. Offices and contact centres
  5. Original Equipment Manufacturer

Tags: Business_Wellness Centigo_UK Supply_chains COVID-19