COVID-19 outbreak will kill a third of Midlands and Northern businesses

One third of firms in the Midlands and Northern England could go bust because of the COVID-19 epidemic, according to Durham University Business School.

The institution said many businesses are not set up to see their supply chains decimated.

The university said that it assessed over 1.7 million companies in 99 sectors, across 29 geographic regions, finding that 29 percent are at “high risk” of collapse.

Professor Kiran Fernandes said: “Most companies in our region had never experienced such an external shock and 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 understand supply chain configurations and identify and suggest mitigation strategies that can be adopted by supply chains across all a large number of sectors.”

The university said that around 35 percent of businesses surveyed were at low or medium risk of folding, as COVID-19 continues to sweep across the country.

Sectors likely to be hit hardest include real estate; food and beverage; personal services; and construction.

Those likely to fare better, the university said, include: computer programming; management consulting; architectural; and parts of the retail food space.