Young man working at a warehouse with boxes. Credit Freepik.com

KBB retailers plagued with ‘diabolical’ supply issues

KBB retailers have told kbbreview of the supply chain issues they have been battling against since March, which include poor communication, delayed orders, and extra delivery charges.

Darren Taylor, managing director of Searle and Taylor in Winchester, in his opinion piece ‘Stuck in the middle with you,’ talks about how he is still waiting for an appliance that was ordered before lockdown. He said: “I am also fed up with hearing the phrase, or more likely the excuse, that ‘we are all in the same boat. Wrong! We are all in the same storm but in very different boats. While the corporates are powering through in their huge liners, I feel like I am left bobbing about in my dinghy’.

“I am also hearing and seeing the same complaints about the same manufacturers being made (LinkedIn has been a very useful resource), yet without any official word of contrition from these companies for what is an industry-wide problem.”

David Moore of Moore by Design in Hersham, Surrey, contacted kbbreview and said he is having supply issues as some brands tell retailers to put orders as delivering ‘ASAP’, and he has experienced extra costs in storing appliances.

Moore said: “If an order has, say, eight appliances, probably not all are in short supply, which means the products that are in stock will be delivered straight away. This means we have to pay for storage for up to 10 weeks (£5 per week per appliance) and we will be invoiced for them long before we are paid.

“ASAP orders immediately count towards our credit limit, which means the limit needs to allow for all goods already delivered and invoiced, and all goods ordered, which is now all of them for all future kitchens. When we reached our credit limit in the past, we could pay what we needed to release the more imminent orders, but with all orders now ‘ASAP’ we need to pay everything to ensure we get the orders we need. There is no distinction in their system to prioritise time-critical orders.”

Moore is also having trouble with credit limits as he has to order appliances months in advance, but he is reaching his credit limit with the company. It means that he will either have to pay for orders he doesn’t need yet or risk the orders not arriving on time as he is ordering for projects months in advance.

Richard Hibbert, managing director and owner of KSL in Sudbury, Suffolk, and KBSA corporate chair, has seen a similar issue with shortages as people are being told to order as soon as possible, even if the items are not needed for several months. He believes that this has created shortages, with orders required for November trying to come in at the same time as those for 2021.

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Hibbert explained on the kbbreview podcast: “The supply chain is a difficult one because the supply is short. People are being told to order as soon as possible and take it into stock and pay for it. That started the second wave of shortages. Because we have people who don’t need things for January to March ordering and having it delivered in October and November, it means that people who need things in November (and couldn’t afford to buy it straight away) don’t have the product. That has knocked on further still. It might just give us a little bit of breathing space on that side.”

Joanne Mcquillan, creative designer at Roman Kitchens in Rayleigh, Essex, described her experience with suppliers as “diabolical”. She said on the kbbreview podcast: “We’ve had a horrific time, as I am aware, many other companies have with supply. It has been diabolical. Some companies have been absolutely outstanding and cannot do enough for us, which has been fantastic, and we have dealt with those companies for 30 years.”

However, this experience has helped her evaluate some relationships, as those suppliers who were helpful will be those she will continue to use in the future. She said: “I will go to the companies that look after me and give them a lot of business, so the ones that call us and contact us to check in and make sure that we are OK are the ones that will get my business going forward.”

Shehryar Khan from Sheraton Interiors in Twickenham sees an issue with how suppliers have handled the situation. He said on the kbbreview podcast: “My issue is not that there is a supply chain issue. My concern is about the way the suppliers have managed it. It would be quite easy to hire a few extra staff and help us manage customer expectations and manage the process better. But at this point in time, it is like ‘it is what it is and you guys just have to carry on’, which puts all of us in a very difficult situation.”

While Khan was at the Hausmesse fair in Germany, he discussed the scarcity of chipboard and compared it to the toilet paper issues we saw at the start of the year.

He said: “I was in Germany for Hausmesse, in September, and speaking with one of the export directors about an article in one of the prominent German trade magazines, with the headline ‘Chipboard is the new toilet paper.’”

Have you heard the latest episode of The kbbreview Podcast? It’s retailers talking about the latest lockdown as well as supply issues and predictions for 2021. Use the player below or search ‘kbbreview’ in your podcast app of choice.

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