The chair of the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association has expressed concern over the “fragility” of the ‘just-in-time’ supply chain that currently characterises provision of cleaning supplies – and is promoting greater British and European manufacture of product as the solution.
Addressing the impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having on the cleaning industry, Lorcan Mekitarian said that outsourcing manufacture to lower cost-base economies has been “a huge contributor to these supply-side shortages”.
“Over recent decades there has been an unremitting downward pressure on price. Understandably determined to get exceptional value for money, buyers of cleaning and hygiene products have demanded lower and lower prices. The industry responded in the only way possible – outsourcing manufacture to lower cost-base economies. The move to manufacture in China, Malaysia and other countries in the Far East has been unremitting.”
Time for a new deal
Although it recognises that such products are a “relatively small contributor to the overall cost of providing cleaning services”, the CHSA is now arguing that the time has come to establish more manufacturing capacity in the UK and Europe.
“It’s time for a new deal for the supply and hygiene supply chain,” said Mekitarian, who goes on to suggest that the initial lack of essential supplies was the result of their being sourced from China, where production dropped off as normal during the Chinese New Year. UK firms’ subsequent attempt to shift supply to other Asian countries was stymied when the coronavirus hit their economies.
Shifting back to UK and Europe
“Learning from our experience of recent months, increasing the resilience of our supply chain is essential," said Mekitarian.
“Manufacturers are already increasing their production capacity in the UK and Europe, meaning product will be able to flow through the distributor network to the contract cleaning and facilities management companies who need it so badly.”
Developing manufacturing capacity in the UK and Europe won't be achieved overnight, continued Mekitarian. Resilient production should not be expected to come on stream until Q1 2021 at the earliest.
“An inevitable consequence will be a rise in prices, but still nothing compared to the money being extorted by the profiteers capitalising on the extreme shortages. In return, consistency of supply and quality can be guaranteed; contract cleaners and facilities managers will be certain they can get the products they need to do a good job, safely.”
"“Manufacturers are already increasing their production capacity in the UK and Europe, meaning product will be able to flow through the distributor network to the contract cleaning and facilities management companies who need it so badly.”