The furniture retailer, DFS, apologized for the delay due to port congestion, warning that the problem was “likely to persist”.
Business was one of many hits, as ports struggled to deal with a global supply chain crisis exacerbated by regular Christmas demand and storage issues ahead of the Brexit deadline at the end of the year.
DFS previously blamed an industry-wide shortage of foam coupled with delays at the Port of Felixstowe, which handles around 40% of Britain’s container traffic.
Tim Stacy, Group CEO, said: “We work all hours focusing on what we can control to take care of our employees and customers.
“I would like to thank our customers for their patience in light of the continuous disruption of our deliveries due to port congestion and a lack of raw materials, as well as I apologize to those who have suffered from the delays.”
His words were included in the retailer’s trading update for the first 24 weeks of the fiscal year ending December 13th.
It stated that the group’s total sales had increased by 19% compared to the same period last year and that online sales had increased by 76% at the same time.
The number of orders in the first 11 weeks of the second quarter decreased by 5%, but DFS said: “We believe the group is gaining market share and benefiting from the shift in consumer spending towards home.”
DFS has 212 showrooms, but it said 52 of those in England, all seven in Wales and six in the Netherlands are closed due to government restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of Coronavirus.
Regarding preparations for Brexit, the Financial Support Department made it clear that under the terms of the World Trade Organization, it would not face tariffs on its final upholstered goods.
Nevertheless, the group said it had “wisely planned to face the risks of exacerbating congestion and current delays at ports,” adding that it was grateful for the patience shown by clients “in the face of the currently extended implementation periods”.
She added that delays at ports “are likely to continue” and the lead time is likely to remain above average.
“While the current environment is clearly unpredictable, our business model is resilient and we are well prepared for growth in the medium term,” said Stacey.
Retailers and food manufacturers called on the government earlier this month to investigate the ongoing disruption of the port.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Food and Drink Association said at the time that the pandemic’s impact on global shipping schedules had created “significant challenges”.
They added: “The spot rates for containers have jumped dramatically – in one case, by 170% from this time last year, while others noticed a 25% increase in the cost week after week.
In addition, carriers are charging congestion charges on imports into Felixstowe and Southampton.
BRC CEO Helen Dickinson has warned that retailers may be forced to increase prices, causing consumers to pay more.