The businessman recruited by Boris Johnson to advise on the supply chain problems that plagued the UK economy in the fall has concluded that major infrastructure changes are needed to avoid repeated crises.
Sky News saw an email sent by Sir Dave Lewis, the former chief executive of Tesco, to participants in its review in which it warned that “the seismic shift in consumer buying habits … as well as a challenge global shipping have shown the strain on our supply chain infrastructure.
Sir Dave’s message, which was sent out last week, did not highlight specific solutions to the problems he encountered, but said a new strand of work examining the future of the industry freight would emerge early next year.
“The opportunity to take a step back and strategically consider infrastructure options that reflect the changing consumption habits of the population, the decarbonization program and the need to improve the capacity and resilience of the supply chain. ‘supply is real,’ he wrote.
The former Tesco boss, who was named president-elect of the £ 40bn GlaxoSmithKline consumer health arm this week, has been appointed by the PM to conduct a three-month review .
Its mandate was to help Britain’s ‘future-proof’ supply chain with the aim of helping the economy recover from the pandemic.
A shortage of heavy truck drivers that has triggered huge queues at gas stations across the country, problems with carbon dioxide supply for industrial users and even concerns over the availability of gas. poultry for buyers turned into a political storm for the government in the fall.
The ‘pingemia’, which has forced hundreds of thousands to self-isolate after coming into contact with people who test positive for COVID-19, has also had a severe impact on worker availability – with similar fears aroused by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
Sir Dave’s immediate recommendations were widely seen as having helped ease congestion in UK ports while speeding up licensing of truck drivers.
His email also stated that his project had focused on “identifying the triggers the government should pull to improve supply chain capacity and resilience in quick order.”
Sir Dave added that “the action on this point should be visible in [the first quarter of 2022]”.
He wrote that although “everything we tried did not work… we were convinced the British public would have a well-stocked and provided Christmas”.
However, he cautioned, “Obviously, we are all aware that the Omicron wave is putting this work under new pressure.
“The key areas seem to have good contingency plans in place, but the situation is changing very quickly, so we have to plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
A Downing Street spokesperson referred Sky News to the Cabinet Office, which made no comment.