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How will the UK construction supply chain reset and re-invent itself as it emerges from the ravages of COVID-19?

24th September 2020


At the turn of 2020, COVID-19 was a largely unknown term, and one that barely featured in the vocabulary of the political and commercial world, let alone being a factor that determined strategic direction and attendant operational activities; now we hear of little else.

The construction sector, characterised by long and fragmented low margin supply chains, was a part of the economy likely to be quickly and heavily impacted by the pandemic outbreak. This proved to be the case, with construction activities hastily suspended and many sites closing voluntarily to meet social distancing requirements.

The sector is widely known for having systemic weaknesses including fragmentation, a multi-tiered structure, low net profit margins, poor cashflow and generally weak balance sheet strength. The high level of intellectual property often locked in lower levels of the supply chain, together with a slow adoption of digital technologies and other factors, has left the sector poorly equipped to handle the pandemic and any future significant downside events.

In addition, with no clarity as to a definitive time point when operations can return to a comparative normal, this will inevitably catalyse changes in ways of working and behaviours across the sector to enable short-term survival and hopefully longer-term prosperity. Though the unprecedented circumstances mean that it would almost be foolhardy to try and predict what a new normal will look like, the situation perhaps does provide an opportunity to redefine strategies and roles that can be enacted by members of the supply chain that will ideally offer greater resilience to the sector at large.

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Despite all the obvious negative consequences of the pandemic, the seismic nature of its impact offers the opportunity to do more than just revert to former ways of working; but it will require all parties to step up to the plate.”

This publication presents the views, thoughts or opinions of the author and not necessarily those of HKA. Whilst we take every care to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time of publication, the content is not intended to deal with all aspects of the subject referred to, should not be relied upon and does not constitute advice of any kind. This publication is protected by copyright © 2020 HKA Global Ltd.


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