BMA calls for patience as shipping delays set to continue until February

CEO of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA), Tom Reynolds, has called for retailers to be patient as he warns delays to the supply chain could last until February.

KBB retailers have been struggling with delayed orders since March – brought about by the global Covid-19 pandemic – thanks to quadrupling shipping prices, international demand for stock, and empty containers in the wrong place causing significant delays to UK imports.

According to the BMA, global shutdowns, followed by a sudden spike in demand, have caused issues such as congestion at ports and empty containers and supplies being abandoned on the wrong side of the world. Competition between transpacific and European routes have also caused shipping prices to soar.

Speaking exclusively to kbbreview, Reynolds said: “In the short term, my advice is be patient. It is as frustrating for suppliers as it is for retailers and customers. Manufacturers are ploughing enormous effort into managing logistics and finding workarounds.

“It’s too early to say what the long-term impact could be, because there could be more global demand volatility ahead. This is a global issue impacting lots of sectors.”

Reynolds explained the current situation with the ports and containers: “After the wave of economic shutdowns due to Covid-19, there has been a global surge in demand for all sorts of internationally-traded goods. The volatility has meant empty containers are in the wrong place.

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“Coupled with fierce competition between transpacific and European routes, that’s as much as quadrupled the price of shipping a box from the Far East. To make matters worse, there is heavy congestion at UK ports, delaying some stock supplies.”

Manufacturers are trying to solve some of the issues by buying forward shipping times. However, this is done at an extra cost, which, Reynolds predicted, might be passed on to the retailer or end consumer.

“The sporadic departures of containers from China, and the difficulty landing those containers in the UK at present, may lead to some spikey and unpredictable lead-in times for some goods. The problem may continue into the Chinese New Year and possibly beyond.

“Many manufacturers forward buy their shipping, which will help to mitigate any the large increases in shipping spot prices. However, the longer the difficulties go on, the more likely it will become that additional costs will need to be passed on.”

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