Hold your nerve Preparing for the unexpected: Brexit advice: CIPS’ concerns for Sainsburys/Asda

It’s every grocery retailer’s nightmare – an unforeseen event prompts an explosion in consumer demand and the supply chain comes unstuck. It’s the penalty shoot out you haven’t trained for. At the time of writing, England staying in the World Cup to the semi finals stage and possibly beyond was prompting massive spending surges every time they played. But were the retailers prepared to take advantage?

Experts predicted for the 2014 World Cup that if England reached the final, fans would have spent over £2.5 billion on celebrating at home or in the pub, and on new TVs, sportswear and mementoes. Making it worse, these days the Amazon effect means consumers expect same or next day delivery whenever they order on line – and that means in time for the match they want to see. The result is, during this year’s World Cup Harry Kane and colleagues’ continued success was great for the country’s morale but was creating major anxiety across the supply chain!

So, for next time this happens, just how do you keep your warehouse space usage flexible, yet make it work for you? One answer is warehousing on-demand, finding short-term warehouse space by using specialist databases.

Brexit is another supply chain problem looming large, but one we still have time to prepare for. Robert Hardy, Commercial Director of Oakland Invicta is something of an expert on this. He addressed the 2018 World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Liverpool last month on how industry can navigate Brexit to its advantage. Robert also spoke at a Brexit Seminar at the NEC, attended by delegates from international food businesses and non-food importers and exporters.

Another industry expert, Duncan Brock, Group Director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) has reservations about the Sainburys and Asda merger and Brexit’s likely effect on the new combined operation’s logistics. In Duncan’s view, by reducing the number of trucks on the road and creating a more efficient system of warehouses, the new business has the potential to lower its carbon footprint and reduce costs. However, Brexit poses a significant challenge, and these savings need to be put to good use creating a supply chain that can adapt to uncertain customs arrangements, tariffs and continued currency instability. Brexit is still some months off.

Meanwhile the grocery industry continues to invest and equipment suppliers keep on innovating. Temperature-controlled transport provider Freshlinc has taken another 60 Schmitz Cargobull multitemperature refrigerated trailers powered by Carrier Transicold refrigeration units. And in the allimportant area of IT for the last nine yards, Honeywell has launched its new Dolphin CT40 mobile computer, an Android device that helps shop assistants provide customers with a high quality retail experience, while staying connected to back office systems for maximum productivity. It’s business as usual, whatever else our masters in Whitehall are doing on our behalf!