Tuesday, September 22, 2020

On the eve of the six-month anniversary of the UK entering a nationwide lockdown, optimism among UK manufacturers and engineers for a speedy return to ‘normal’ is dissipating, according to research carried out by Subcon, the UK’s premier subcontract manufacturing supply chain show.

Long-tail impact

Two surveys asking identical questions were conducted five months apart. In April, just 13 per cent of the 247 industry professionals believed the impact of Covid-19 on the supply chain would continue to be felt after a year. By August, that number had rocketed to 59 per cent, with industry expecting recovery to follow a much deeper, longer curve than originally forecast.

One in 10 initially predicted repercussions would last for more than two years, but five months on, that figure had almost doubled to 17 per cent.

Supply chain solid

Despite believing we’re facing a longer-tailed recovery than initially hoped, the survey also showed that, as we passed through the summer months and lockdown restrictions were lifted, significantly fewer people – though still a high number and clear majority – were convinced that covid would have/has had a negative impact on the supply chain.

The survey asked respondents to rate their answers from 1-10, with 1 being no impact and 10 very negative. In April, 86 per cent opted for a number between 6 and 10. By August, this had dropped to 68 per cent.

Government support

Finally, the industry was asked how they felt about the Government’s performance and support packages throughout the crisis. More than half (54 per cent) pre-empted in April they would take advantage of emergency COVID-19 support, including the job retention scheme, small business loans and business rates relief. In reality, 57 per cent did.

But in spite of this take-up, confidence in the Government’s response to the pandemic has dropped sharply since April, when 71 per cent believed Parliament had done enough to ‘limit the effects on people, business and the economy’. By August, this had fallen to 58 per cent.

“While it’s fair to say that no one could have forecast that 2020 would be the year the planet was practically brought to a standstill by a global pandemic, or the impact it would have on people, businesses and the British economy, our surveys show that we are also now realising that it’s proving equally challenging to predict how long the impact is going to last and the trajectory that our recovery will follow,” commented Subcon event director Gordon Kirk.

“While there are few positives to be had from Covid-19, the increasing industry confidence in the resilience of our supply chain over the last five months is very encouraging to see and I’m sure this will only continue to rise as further time passes. The disruption seen across international supply chains has shone a light on the true value of a reliable local supply chain, that can operate dependably within tighter lead times.”

Subcon, the UK’s premier subcontract manufacturing supply chain show, is co-located with Manufacturing Management Show and The Engineer Expo from 26-28 January 2021 at The NEC, Birmingham. Visitors can register their interest here ahead of online registration opening in the coming weeks.

If you are interested in exhibiting at Subcon, please contact: 



What impact do you think C19 will have on the supply chain out of 10?

1 = no impact/10 = very negative 
                        April                 August

0-5                   14%                  32%
6-10                 86%                  68%

How long do you think the impact will last for?

                        April                 August

Up to 1 year     87%                  41%
Over 1 year      13%                  59%

(In April, 10% thought it may last for more than 2 years. By August, this had risen to 17%)


Do you think Govt has done enough to limit the effects to people, business, the economy?

                          April                 August

Yes/probably     71%                   58%
No                      21%                  33%


Did you take advantage of emergency CV support?

Yes       57%


For media information, please contact:

Charlie Le Rougetel:, 07736 330676