The Builders Merchants Federation is collating reports from members on product availability issues relating to capacity problems at British ports and advising government on the impact this is having on the sector.
The current issues mainly relate to goods imported from the Far East, including sanitaryware, power tools, screws and fixings, in addition to timber products imported from Scandinavia where supplies of soft wood are under pressure due to increased demand worldwide.
BMF CEO, John Newcomb, who co-chairs the Construction Leadership Council’s working group on product availability and the movement of goods and materials following Brexit, is in regular dialogue with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to share intelligence with relevant parties across Government. BEIS has relayed these discussions to the key relevant Departments, including the Department of Transport, which is monitoring the issue and increasing their engagement with the shipping industry.
John Newcomb said: “Pretty much all the availability issues at the moment are Covid-related and the result of factories closing and re-opening, along with the shortage of container capacity, which also flows from Covid. At the moment we view Brexit as a complicating factor rather than the main area of concern, but we have also raised the issue of the preparedness of UK ports and customs post-Brexit with our contacts at BEIS.”
John Newcomb added: “While shortages are not reported to be impacting sites yet, there are a lot of suppliers and merchants already flashing warning signs. It takes only one material to be unavailable to impact work on site.”
The BMF has requested anyone experiencing delays or other issues with imported products to email details to John Newcomb directly, at firstname.lastname@example.org, as it continues to build an evidence case to present to Government.