Government hires ex-Tesco boss 'to resolve acute supply chain issues'

Fri 8 Oct 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appointed Sir David Lewis, former CEO of Tesco, as adviser to solve the supply chain crisis that is threatening Christmas festivities.

A Unilever marketing chief before he joined Tesco, Lewis was credited for turning around the grocer across six years after a major accounting scandal.

He has been hired until the end of the year to advise the government “to quickly resolve acute, short term issues”, according to a Cabinet Office statement today.

The Independent called the appointment “a dramatic escalation of government acceptance of the scale of the crisis facing retail”.

Short term, longer term issues

Lewis, who left Tesco in 2020, will also advise on long term changes to UK supply chains for goods – likely to include a solution to a UK shortage of HGV drivers.

The Road Haulage Association estimates the shortfall of qualified drivers to be in the region of 100,000, partly caused by EU-state born drivers returning home after Brexit.

Lewis will work closely with industry to “improve government access to data and build the most effective methods into future responses to blockages,” the Cabinet Office said.

Quick start

Starting from Monday 11 October, Lewis will also co-chair the new Supply Chain Advisory Group, consisting of supply chain experts, and a new Industry Taskforce. The government said the two groups would “ensure those on the ground have the opportunity to voice their concerns and advise on the most efficient resolutions”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Lewis would join the team “working on future proofing our supply chains across the United Kingdom as we recover from the pandemic.

“There are currently global supply issues which we are working with industry to mitigate and Dave brings a wealth of experience which will help us continue to protect our businesses and supply chains.”

Lewis will work closely with the PM, No10 and the Treasury, and will be based in the Cabinet Office.