Electrocoin’s John Stergides has been in the industry long enough to recognise a crisis, and the shipping container troubles is a crisis sailing right towards the UK’s ports. But, he says, the government can help calm the waters.
Meanwhile, his next door neighbour in Park Avenue, west London, Electrocoin’s John Stergides senior, is equally concerned.
His experience is a very familiar one to many others in the supply chain: “This is a global problem,” he told Coinslot. “ We have two containers coming across from the US which left the factory on 15 March. We were then told that the price was increasing and that there would be a three week delay until 5 May. Then, the container ship wasn’t able to dock and we’re looking at a further delay until next week.”
It’s a sorry tale for the distribution sector, and it’s widespread. Coinslot has heard from a further five companies experiencing the same issue of price rises and delayed shipments not just for machines, but tickets, plush and merchandising.
And, it seems, the problem doesn’t end at the final UK drop off in places such as Felixstowe. One supplier has told of a domestic haulage company citing a ‘hefty’ rise in delivery charges from port to depot due, it said, to “staff shortages because of furlough’.
It’s not a pretty picture for the sector – and that’s not even mentioning the word Brexit. On that subject, frustrations have been flying across industry social media in recent weeks, with one machine supplier warning of a number haulage firms quoting a 2- 3 week delivery as opposed to the 5 day service pre-Brexit.
With possible product shortages, delivery delays and even price rises, the recovery from Covid is going to be a challenge, but with so many obstacles, are there any options to help ease the difficulties?
For John Stergides, there might be a few. “The shipping problems are ones the government should be acutely aware of – they’ve experienced the same issues with PPE and the vaccinations. They should understand exactly what we’re facing.
“For me, they have let the supply chain down, but now they can help. They can defer the time we pay VAT on imports to when the products arrive rather than before; and they can give businesses like our’s and the UDC’s, the JNC’s through to all the smaller suppliers around the industry rates support on our premises. We need some assistance because the obstacles to recovery are not reducing, they’re increasing. And industry, every industry, needs a healthy supply chain.”