Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Builders run short of supplies as UK port holdups raise Brexit concerns


Builders are running short of everything from power tools and screws to timber and roof tiles as the gridlock at UK ports holds up crucial deliveries and sets off alarm bells in the run-up to Brexit.

The UK’s ports have been grappling with a surge in freight volumes at a time when their ability to process it all is hindered by coronavirus restrictions.

Since September, the country’s biggest container port, Felixstowe, has been handling about 30% more goods than usual, with businesses rushing to replenish stock after the end of lockdowns and building stockpiles before the end of the Brexit transition period.

High street chains have already reported shortages of essential goods such as washing machines and fridges, and also toys, as they struggle to get shipments through the Suffolk port.

The fallout from the congestion, which has spread to other major ports including Southampton and London Gateway, is being felt in a number of industries.

John Newcomb, the chief executive of the Builders Merchants Federation, said the ports were becoming a “major issue” for its members. They have enjoyed bumper sales as locked-down Britons renovated their homes but were experiencing availability problems because they “can’t get materials in quicker”. The squeeze was also pushing up the price of goods.

“There appears to be an increasing issue getting products through ports,” Newcomb said. “Rather than taking a maximum of one week to unload, it is taking up to four.”

Timber is of particular concern (the price is up between 20% and 40% because of supply problems in Scandinavia) but there is also a diminishing supply of roof tiles, screws, fixings, tools and white goods such as washing machines and fridges, he said.

In recent weeks the congestion at Felixstowe as well as other ports has encouraged vessels to “cut and run” – either partially unloading or skipping UK calls altogether and dumping cargo at Rotterdam, Antwerp and Zeebrugge instead, said Mirko Woitzik, an analyst at the supply chain risk advisory firm Resilience360. Some carriers are discussing not calling at Felixstowe until February because of fears it will remain clogged, he said.

The shortage of building materials had so far been felt by the retail chains that supply jobbing builders but Newcomb said that, with the situation unlikely to be resolved for several months, it would also become a problem for big contractors. The BMF has raised the issue with the government as the high level of demand has prevented the building trade from stockpiling in the run-up to Brexit.

The coronavirus pandemic has destroyed the equilibrium that usually exists in the maritime supply chain. Robert Keen, the director general of the British International Freight Association, said that over a 10-week period logistics firms went from having no work to a situation where almost no ships were idle. These extremes had led to a “breakdown of the conveyor belt of ships and containers, and the return flow of empty containers”, which was a major cause of congestion, he said.

The resurgent demand has resulted in a fight for space on the container ships that ply the shipping routes from low-cost manufacturing hubs, such as China, to big consumer markets including the US and Europe. UK businesses are reporting stratospheric increases in shipping costs, which are likely to add to the pressure on prices in the new year.

Simon Midwood, the managing director of the family-run building materials supplier Timco, said its shipping costs had increased by more than 300%. That extra cost was pushing up cost prices by between 3% and 17%.

With port delays already causing shortages of popular toy sets such as Barbie, the retailer The Entertainer said it was facing soaring import costs from China, up from $1,000 six weeks ago to more than $6,000.

Gary Grant, the chain’s co-founder, said that could mean higher prices for shoppers in 2021 as retailers struggled to absorb rising costs. The situation was compounded by uncertainty surrounding the import taxes that will apply after Brexit, he added.

Last month the Guardian revealed that 11,000 containers of government-procured PPE were part of the problem at Felixstowe. That backlog has been reduced to about 4,000 and should be cleared by Christmas. The port said it expected the increase in container volumes to last into January but was “working hard to minimise the impact on daily operations and to maintain vital supply chains”.

Read more:
Builders run short of supplies as UK port holdups raise Brexit concerns

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free.
Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!



WASHINGTON — US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler said that companies that help facilitate transactions in the cryptocurrency market should come...


Twitter owner and Tesla boss Elon Musk briefly lost his title as the world’s richest person on Wednesday, according to Forbes, following a steep...


BERLIN — The founder of Russia’s only LGBTQ+ museum said he was forced to close its doors on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin signed...


Philippine lawmakers are looking to tap central bank profits to seed a proposed sovereign wealth fund, after an earlier plan to use pension funds...


Presidential elections drove this year’s Google searches in the Philippines as “Halalan 2022” topped the overall list of trending searches and “precinct finder” landed...


THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE eased to 4.5% in October, returning to the record-low level last seen in October 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the...

You May Also Like


The minute that any question pops into your head, you can simply ask Google. No longer do we have to pour over books and...


Having a good Instagram marketing agency to back up your Instagram account is an absolute must going into the new year. With competition stronger...


Browsing history makes referring to sites and pages you’ve visited in the past seamless. It’ll help you recall what page you checked out on...


Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the global population. Therefore, it is a problem that many people suffer or have suffered throughout...

Disclaimer:, its managers, its employees, and assigns (collectively "The Company") do not make any guarantee or warranty about what is advertised above. Information provided by this website is for research purposes only and should not be considered as personalized financial advice. The Company is not affiliated with, nor does it receive compensation from, any specific security. The Company is not registered or licensed by any governing body in any jurisdiction to give investing advice or provide investment recommendation. Any investments recommended here should be taken into consideration only after consulting with your investment advisor and after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Copyright © 2021 SmartRetirementReport. All Rights Reserved.