Primark and Chanel among stores ‘facing £ 1.5bn delays in imports to Felixstowe’

Retailers face Christmas delays on goods worth £ 1.5bn if congestion at Britain’s largest port continues through December – sellers from Primark to Chanel being among those potentially affected, according to research.

Clothing and electrical goods for big names on the streets are among the sectors likely to be hit hardest by delays in Felixstowe, according to an analysis by a risk modeling company.

The build-up of cargo waiting to pass through the port – Britain’s largest for freight – is attributed to the shortage of truck drivers and lack of space in warehouses and distribution centers.

Russell Group – which provides data to insurers and corporate clients – said its figures suggested retailers such as Tesco, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and Asda were facing clothing and fashion delays worth up to several tens of millions of pounds if the congestion of the port of Suffolk continued until Christmas. period.

The analysis showed that even French luxury brand Chanel could be affected, with clothes worth £ 30million likely to pass through Felixstowe in the next 10 weeks.

An industry body representing UK ports warned last week that global shipping problems are expected to last for up to nine months, although several retailers have said they have yet to experience significant delays in shipments.

John Lewis said one of his big Christmas deliveries arrived as planned this weekend.

Primark, which is due to move £ 10.1million worth of clothing to Felixstowe by Christmas, said it was experiencing “some disruption” in its supply chain, but it wasn’t had no widespread impact on inventory levels.

Russell Group, which used proprietary data to compare trade flows through Felixstowe over the same period in 2020 with the current situation, said it estimated around £ 7bn of goods passed through the port each year, which around £ 1.5bn was likely to delay if current problems persist until Christmas.

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Maritime transport crisis “will last until next summer” as container ships line up in the Channel for European ports

Clothing, electrical components, and household appliances were found to be the three types of goods most likely to be late.

Danish company Maersk, the world’s largest shipping operator, revealed on Tuesday that it hijacks one of its giant Triple E ships, capable of holding 18,000 containers, from Felixstowe every week to avoid port congestion.

As a result, some 4,000 containers bound for the UK will now reach Britain by being unloaded on the mainland and then transhipped through the Channel Tunnel, or onto smaller freighters to other ports.

Russell Group analysis suggested clothing worth £ 46.17million imported by Asda supermarkets was at risk of being caught late. The figure for Tesco was £ 33.7million, while for John Lewis and M&S it was £ 32.2million and £ 30million respectively.

Electrical components worth £ 160million and home appliances worth £ 104million, also destined for a number of major UK retailers, could also experience delays.

Suki Basi, CEO of Russell Group, said: “Trade is becoming increasingly concentrated – $ 7.5 billion in global trade flows through 50 key ports.

“So when there is a blockage at a major port, there is disruption throughout the value chain for consumers and businesses. ”

Felixstowe’s problems are largely blamed on a lack of transport capacity to collect the containers once they have been unloaded, with average collection times dropping from 4.5 days to 10 days in the past two weeks. .

Yesterday, port owners insisted the situation was improving, with containers cleared for collection within minutes of unloading at the dock. It is understood that some containers are collected within two hours of arrival.

Industry sources said Britain has long operated a parallel system of container transfer from major mainland ports, such as Rotterdam, to the UK via Channel ports, alongside direct shipments to Felixstowe. from China and the Far East. This route, which uses smaller UK ports, is expected to eventually absorb excess demand to deliver containers to Britain.

Retailers have pointed out that shipments are received at regular intervals, with large amounts of Christmas stock already in the UK.

A spokesperson for John Lewis said: “We don’t see an impact at this time, but as you can imagine, we are keeping a close eye on the situation and working closely with our suppliers.”

Chanel declined to comment. Tesco, Asda and M&S did not respond to requests for comment.

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