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Durham University

Research & business

Our research response to the Covid-19 pandemic

We conduct boundary-breaking research that improves lives across the world. Here’s how we’re applying that research to help people combat the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and help chart the route to recovery.

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Free advice available for local businesses at risk from Covid-19

(9 April 2020)

Almost a third of businesses in the Midlands and the North of England are at high risk of collapse due to Covid-19 impacting on their supply chain.

This is according to a recent report from the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Technology Management (CITM).

The report reviewed over 1.7 million businesses in these areas, spread across 99 different sectors, and found that 29% of these are at high risk due to how their supply chains operate. The report also showed around 35% are either at low or medium risk due to the potential impact of COVID-19.

This report, ‘Covid-19 and Supply Chains in the United Kingdom: Impact & Mitigation’, was co-authored by Professor Kiran Fernandes and Drs Atanu Chaudhuri and Manish Shukla alongside other members of the research centre.

The researchers analysed data of over 1.7 million companies in 28 different regions across the Midlands and North of England to calculate the potential impact of Covid-19 on the supply chains. While, many of these companies operate through global supply chains, the impact of such an external shock is felt at a local level.

This was due to a number of factors such as:

  • complexity of supply chains in the region
  • supply chain configuration
  • internal and external resilience characteristics of companies
  • agility in managerial decision-making capability, and
  • the adoption and use of technologies.

This study reports findings on the potential impact of Covid-19 to supply chains in the North of England and mitigation and resilience strategies that can be adopted by companies. The report also provides insight into the specific sectors that are most likely to be impacted on due to the pandemic.

The researchers found that the highest risk industries included:

  • real estate
  • food and beverage
  • personal services, and
  • the construction sector.

The companies seen as less likely to be affected included:

  • computer programming
  • management consulting
  • architectural, and
  • parts of the retail food sector (e.g. production and distribution of baked produce).

Professor Kiran Fernandes, Associate Dean, commented:

“Most companies in our region had never experienced such an external shock and therefore were not prepared with mitigation strategies for their complex global supply chains. Analysing a large number of companies using a big data approach has allowed us to better understand supply chain configurations and more importantly allowed us to identify and suggest mitigation strategies that can be adopted by supply chains across all a large number of sectors.”

Experts from the business school have identified six separate mitigation strategies that can be assigned a specific, tailored strategy for each of the 99 different sectors, in order to provide advice on how managers and business owners can navigate their company in this time of crisis.

The School are now offering free of charge consultations for businesses with key international experts from the Centre for Technology and Innovation Management. Staff from the Centre offer vast, global experience in consulting organisations in the area of operations, innovation and supply chain management.

Professor Kiran Fernandes added:

“The University is part of our region’s ecosystem. It is critical and timely that we work with our regional businesses and ecosystems to ensure that our expertise can be used to help them develop both short term and long term resilience strategies that can help them not only survive but compete in the post Covid-19 environment.”

Find out more

  • For personal, tailored advice on mitigation strategies for your company, please email
  • The full ‘Covid-19 and Supply Chains in the United Kingdom: Impact & Mitigation’ is available to download via this link
  • For more information on the Centre for Innovation and Technology Management click here