British businesses are unprepared for the impact of the London Olympics says new research

Posted on 12 Jan 2012 by The Manufacturer

A report released by Olympic sponsor and communications company, BT this week reveals 37% of manufacturers have no plans to make provision for increased absenteeism and 25% believe there will be no impact on supply chains as Britain absorbs millions of extra visitors for London 2012.

As part of its own preparation for the Olympic games and to highlight areas of concern and opportunity to customers, BT undertook a survey of around 1200 private and public sector companies in the UK.

The survey assessed the extent to which firms believed there was an opportunity for the to exploit the games for additional business or to build future business as well as exploring views on the possible impact of the games on staff performance and logistics operations.

With most manufacturing contracts for the games having been secured some time ago almost 30% of UK manufacturers believe the games will be irrelevant to their businesses. But BT warns that such a view will lead companies to miss out on key opportunities to exploit the international corporate presence that the Olympics attracts and the company is urging companies from all sector to take advantage of special business connect event being hosted at several embassies and by UKTI at Lancaster house.

Just under half of the manufacturers surveyed for BT’s research realised the possibility of building international links during and after the games.

Overall BT says that 40% of UK manufacturers say they have no plans at all to prepare for the Olympics as either an opportunity or a risk despite 87% saying they have concerns about staff productivity, absenteeism and demand surges. Increased cyber security threats were also a worry for many according to Emer Timmons, president BT global services UK and executive sponsor for London 2012.

Following an observed trend for reluctance to invest among UK manufacturers, only 10% of those surveyed have invested in new technology to help manage these risks to business continuity and performance throughout the games.

At a briefing event in London this week Ms Timmons concentrated on businesses in London and the South East saying that many were planning to alter delivery schedules with a significant rise in night time freight on the roads expected.

Timmons did however highlight that all concerns and opportunities arising from the Olympics were not unique to London and that the country as a whole would experience knock on effects as companies altered distribution and warehousing arrangement to avoid the South East and as various Olympic events take place throughout UK regions.

Stressing the fact that 4bn people around the world are expected to watch the London Olympics Timmons said “this is about UK plc” and the opportunity to showcase British business, as well as athletic prowess, on an international stage.

BT have based their prediction on the level of opportunity and diruption likely to be caused at London 2012 on a case study of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics among others. Commenting on his lessons learnt from these games Colin Hansen, the former British Columbia Minister responsible for them said: “No manufacturing firms in the UK should expect next summer to be business as usual, but with the right plans in place, they can take advantage of the occasion and seize the long-term economic benefits.”