We have been a long time without a blog! That is partly because this Spring has been so manic with enquiries and orders that we have not faced any supply problems so far as finding business is concerned. But we are facing some other issues, and in the immediate future. Once again, we are facing supply issues on materials and sinks – more of what we wrote about in October last year.
First of all, we are part of a far wider issue. You may have noticed that supermarket shelves have been looking a little bare recently. A shortage of drivers here in the UK and elsewhere, together with pickers and other temporary agricultural labour, is challenging the food supply chain. A lot of us probably still have a decent stock of frozen or tinned food running back to the initial Brexit worries, but it’s still unwelcome news and will, of course, impact most on those with no stocks to fall back on.
Closer to home, so far as our business is concerned, we are facing a general shortage of building materials. In part this is due to the lockdown: despite construction never actually being closed down, it did suffer a squeeze during the pandemic, and as we come out of restrictions it is like a cork being taken off a bottle. EVERYBODY wants to build or renovate at the moment, and the construction industry is working flat out. No surprise that we are running short of things.
But the supply problems are not only down to increased demand but a genuine bottleneck in supply. Covid has hit production and transport systems all around the world. There is a global shortage of containers leading to vastly inflated prices for sea transport. If the cost of container transport goes up by 500 or even 800%, then it reaches the point where, for bulk products with little added value, like building stone, the container costs more than its contents. Add in the reluctance of some carriers to deliver to the UK given lower margins and more paperwork hassle post Brexit, and you have a perfect storm so far as supply is concerned.
Chatting with other tradespeople on the farm here it is clear that the problem is real. The high end joiners next door say that they are ok for wood at the moment, but that MDF is really in short supply. And so it goes on.
The day we decided we had to write this blog, we wrote to all our regular kitchen clients to give the heads up on the issue. Within a couple of hours, two quartz suppliers and our regular sink company had written to us to say that they needed to put on a temporary surcharge to cover the increased costs due to the container bottleneck. And some materials just can’t be found for love nor money.
Here at AG we have tried to stock up on key product lines. That means focussing on our most sold stock materials – which means white marble-look quartz, other white quartz stones and a black granite, at the moment. Even so, with the present throughput of orders, no amount of stock seems to be enough. On one day this week I personally took more than 10 orders – it is manic and showing no signs of letting up.
Newly arrived white quartz slabs on our incomings rack in the warehouse.
The message to our customers is clear:
- Please start your worktop buying process early
- If you can, please be flexible about materials – the one you first fall in love with may not be easy to find
- If you must have the one you fall in love with, please be ready for a possible delay. That may mean installing temporary worktops to tide you over until your stone comes in.
- Please bear with us, as Covid and Brexit and sheer volume disruption hits our industry
We are Affordable Granite, the leading granite installer in Surrey, Sussex and across the South East. We are very conscious of the pressures on us all at this crazy time, and especially in our industry and related trades. If you are interested in buying granite or quartz worktops, then we are the best people to speak to. Get the ball rolling SOON – we look forward to hearing from you! Contact us on 01293 863992 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org/ .