Posted by: Rex Nye
- Last Updated: 16/06/2020 - 09:05
Covid-19 has had a massive effect on supply chains, with closures affecting manufacturers and raw material suppliers, and the inevitable knock on effect on stock levels at merchants like Nyes. We've gathered information on key areas to help inform our customers.
As the construction economy wakes up, demand for timber has shot through the roof. As well as the UK industry, Europe and America also take from the same forests we do. Normally there is plentiful supply, but because the mills in countries like Lithuania and Latvia went into lockdown for two months they were unable to cut, mill or treat timber, causing their stocks to completely run down.
Nyes normally keep high stock levels of good quality timber, but demand has now severely diminished our stocks, and we are working almost 'hand to mouth'. We are also cautious about quality of the new stocks. With pressure for production to be ramped up, quality control may slip. We have not changed supplier as we stand by our current supplier's track record for high quality timber but this is becoming harder.
We anticipate these issues will carry on to some extent for most of the year.
With 95% of plaster coming from British Gypsum, they unfortunately decided to simply turn off the factory on day one of lockdown, reportedly causing huge clogs in the machines. When returning to the factory, they then had to spend two weeks unclogging the machines. They are now manufacturing day and night to get stocks back up to normal but are still below needed levels.
A time frame for normal stock availability is not clear, though we understand it is getting better. At the moment we don't expect to see any more plaster until possibly the end of July.
The whole of the UK is on plasterboard allocation, again due to British Gypsum closing down and stopping their manufacturing. We are ordering a standard board from Poland (at an extremely inflated rate) but our performance board is still coming from the UK. We currently have very high stocks of all boards we generally stock, mainly because we are unable to sell the plaster to go with it.
There is some shortage of cement with lead time extending to 10 days and manufacturers warning this may get worse. However, we have high stocks and are confident in supplying all sites for the foreseeable future.
Fencing has been the hardest hit from this, as the retail market stayed strong during lockdown, with fencing one of the highest sellers. With the massive shortage of timber forcing some manufacturers to close, supplies have almost completely dried up. We are prioritising our trade customers over retail, but at present it's extremely difficult to meet demand.
Porciale has now extended from 24hr delivery from our suppliers to three weeks, with demand increasing as everyone is trying to get their gardens done while the weather is fair. We still have high stocks but any special items that are non-stock are subject to delay.
Sandstone from India has also been a problem. India was put into one of the strictest lockdowns with all mining stopped and all exports cancelled. Our stock has kept us going through this but we are now seeing some gaps in our offering. We have containers now on the water with more to follow, but there is a nationwide backlog and a large queue at sea of ships waiting to dock and unload.
We have tried to keep on top of all our stocks to make sure all of our customers can carry on working, prioritising the trades and professionals to ensure their livelihood. We have a few holes in even our most popular items, and we're sorry for any problems this causes. Our purchasing team are in daily contact with suppliers and manufacturers to assess the situation and we aim to return to normal as soon as possible.
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