Westminster, London

Sir Dave Lewis: Is former Tesco boss going to solve supply chain issues?

After being appointed as the man to solve supply chain blockages, former Tesco Chief Executive Sir Dave Lewis could help to ease issues – and FWD says he should have wholesale at the heart of his plans

So, what’s new?

Good news! The government has recognised the need for help to identify solutions to the many blockages in the supply chain and it’s appointed Sir Dave Lewis to advise on immediate improvements to “quickly resolve acute, short-term issues,” as well as longer-term changes.

Isn’t Sir Dave the former head of Tesco? What does he know about wholesale?

Enough to see the value of buying Booker, for a start. Putting a supermarket man in charge of food distribution might raise an eyebrow or two among Wholesale News readers, but most of our larger wholesalers have already been consulted, including the buying groups.

What’s been happening?

We arranged a meeting for members with the supply chain team in the Cabinet Office who are working with Sir Dave Lewis on food supply chain issues and resilience.

They’re looking at challenges and potential solutions across three time horizons: between October and Christmas; 2022; and 2023 to 2025, with short-term solutions alongside a sustainable improvement in the resilience of the supply chain. At the meeting, members talked about the current situation on the ground (energy, wages, food prices) and went into detail on availability, price increases, staffing and potential policy solutions.

Several members of the FWD Council also had one-to-one calls with Sir Dave. Wholesale certainly isn’t being overlooked.

Are you sure?

We also had a roundtable call for members direct with Sir Dave himself. Attendees highlighted issues at ports, the need for seasonal workers, increased border capacity and the need for a longer visa scheme.

We raised the issue of inbound supply and whether suppliers could be compelled to publish their fulfilment levels to create transparency and equitability of supply. This all helps to allay any fears of imbalance in supplier allocations or government support.

Ok, I’m convinced!

There’s work to do however – the Cabinet Office has appointed Defra to lead on gathering relevant data and intelligence from the wholesale sector. They’re looking for rich data on things like inbound and outbound levels, percentage of orders delivered and fulfilled, substitutions, wage costs and vacancy rates.

As always with government, the devil’s in the data, and it’ll take a real effort from wholesalers and suppliers to provide the numbers to get the policy decisions we need.

Brexit coronavirus covid-19 Dave Lewis FWD supply chain Tesco