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Supply chain businesses report more challenges and volatility than 12 months ago

By Steve Charnock
8 June 2022
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The results of Grant Thornton UK's latest Business Outlook Tracker research is in. And it paints something of a worrying picture for supply chain management.

The research specifically looks at some 370 business leaders that work with a supply chain. This most recent survey shows that more than half of those polled (52%) admit to finding running their business more difficult today than 12 months ago.

To help manage financial pressures, 61% of people responding to the survey said that their suppliers have agreed to more flexible payment terms. 55% said rising costs in their supply chain are being passed down to their customers. 42% of the respondents admitted to having already increased their prices, with 51% planning to raise prices this year.  

Other notable pieces of information gleaned from the survey reveal:

  • Optimism over the outlook of the economy is at its lowest level since our survey began in December 2020.
  • The number of companies feeling pessimistic about their revenue has more than doubled since October 2021.
  • Less than 60% of business leaders are optimistic about their companies funding position – down 10% from February.
  • The number of companies expecting to significantly reduce profits grew over 21% since February.

Sue Knight is a Partner and Practice Leader at Grant Thornton UK. She says that business leaders need to remain focused and keep things simple and practical.

Sue says: “Businesses need to take a risk and profitability-based approach to their supply chain as changes that affect businesses are happening constantly, whether you are prepared or not."

"Business leaders should take time to identify the most likely and damaging risks to identify improvements that can help build resilience, increase supply chain predictability and reduce supplier risk. They should then add analysis of profitability to the picture, which will help to identify the most resilient products and customers."

“It will likely take 18-24 months for organisations to make any meaningful changes to their supply chains, and this timeline will depend on the maturity of the supply chain approach. The Midlands’ businesses should plan for 12 months at least to put systems in place. Look for simple steps that you can action right away, such as measuring and mapping, as many improvements do not need large investments."

“Finding the opportunities that have the most ‘buy-in’ and investment from the business is also vital.  For example, if your internal ESG strategy isn’t in order, then your supply chain will be a long way off.  Identify which initiatives bring business benefit and are either established, or will be supported in your own business, and focus on those initially.”

It's not all bad news, though. You can read the full report here.

READ MORE: Grant Thornton UK: 98% of Thames Valley businesses feel ESG pressure from stakeholders

READ MORE: Grant Thornton: Pandemic rattles the mid-market’s business confidence again