The ongoing situation caused by containing and stemming the Coronavirus has prompted warnings of shortages later in the year in many consumer product areas, notably toys, fashion and accessories. While not totally unaffected, the greeting card and allied product sector appears to be much better placed, though card retailers have already been warned to brace themselves for slight delays in the medium-term.
“Most of the factories we work with in China are now operational, albeit some are working on a skeleton staff,” David Byk, ceo of the Swan Mill group (which includes Ling Design, GBCC, Penny Kennedy and Swantex) told PG Buzz. “The current issues are more logistical, involving the shipping of goods. However, thankfully the slight delays are falling at a time which is not crucial to our sector.”
From a personal point of view however David has cancelled his plans to visit China in March and April, partly as the jury is still out as to whether the Canton Fair (due to take place in April) will go ahead at full strength.
While Chris Bryan, general manager of Second Nature is relieved that the factories it works with in China are back up and running he predicts there will be something of a “bun-fight” as suppliers of all industries fight for space on the shipping containers to the UK.
“Our factories are, quite rightly, being very diligent, ensuring they have plenty of masks and making regular temperature checks of all workers. We are very relieved by this as their wellbeing is a top priority,” says Chris.
Daniel Prince, managing director of Danilo, which produces some of its products in China, concurs with Chris over the logistical knock-on effects of the virus.
“The shipping, freight and cargo schedules are, as to be expected, rather messed up and it will take time for everything to get back to normal – and suppliers will be caught in the crossfire,” explains Daniel. “Our last two shipments, which involved bespoke orders, have been delayed by a week each,” Daniel added. “We are very grateful for the understanding and patience being shown by our retail customers, aware that there is very little we can do.”
How much do retailers source from China?
Asos: 25% of own-label
B&M: 70% of general merchandise
John Lewis: 20%-30%
Marks & Spencer: c15%
AO World: c30%
(Source: Shore Capital)
T: The battle for shipping will be the next challenge to avoid delays in stock arriving from China to UK shores.