A programme to support Marches businesses with supply chain challenges is being extended after nearly 30 companies benefitted from its expert help.

With fuel and labour shortages in the UK compounding a global supply chain crisis, many businesses across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin are struggling with stock issues and rising costs.

The Marches Growth Hub promotes the UK-Centric Supply Chains programme, delivered by Aston University, which is aiming to support 20 SMEs, including five start-up companies, in its next phase. The first phase saw academics at the university link up with 29 businesses, including four start-ups, to address supply chain issues.

The Marches Growth Hub is the business support service of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership which signposts enterprises to help and advice for business growth, including access to finance.

Business support lead with the Marches LEP Yasmin Sulaman said: “Many businesses are facing supply chain challenges at the moment, in particular manufacturers and food and drink producers following the impact of both COVID-19 and Britain’s exit from the EU.

“There is a real need for this support in the marketplace to help address supply chain issues and build resiliency.

“The project provides SMEs with access to short-term collaborations with university academics. It focusses on supporting companies in the food, automotive and manufacturing sectors to gain a better understanding of their supply chain in terms of geography, location and relationships with suppliers and customers.”

The aim of the project is to support businesses to improve their operations and turnover and to develop their risk management strategies with respect to their supply chains, with the view to growing/maximising the UK content of their supply chains.

Among the Marches companies which have been supported by the programme are Ply Van Racking, based in Uffington, near Shrewsbury and artisan nut butter producer, Butterbelle, based in Jackfield, Telford.