Think you’ll survive the next COVID? Think again

Julian Birkinshaw, Robert Kaplan and Margaret Heffernan explore smart strategies for resilience in an uncertain world.

by Adam Gale

On page 62 of Associated British Foods’ 2019 Annual Report, published in November, there is a summary of the principal risks and uncertainties that the board believed could challenge its business model or operations over the coming year. 

Fluctuations in exchange rates and commodity prices featured, as did the possibility of a cyberattack or a consumer shift away from sugary foods. Brexit got a special mention too. Nowhere, of course, was the notion raised that a virus could emerge from China that would turn high streets across the world into ghost towns.

The Covid-19 lockdown, when it came, cost ABF’s Primark chain approximately £650m in revenues a month. The retailer was among the worst affected in Europe, because it had for years spurned ecommerce in favour of bricks and mortar - a decision that paid off handsomely, until the virus shattered the unspoken assumptions on which it was based. 

Sign in to continue

Sign in

Trouble signing in?

Reset password: Click here


Call: 020 8267 8121



  • Up to 4 free articles a month
  • Free email bulletins

Register Now

Get 30 days free access

Sign up for a 30 day free trial and get:

  • Full access to
  • Exclusive event discounts
  • Management Today's print magazine

Join today