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Supplier woes

As I write this the news is full of severe supply chain issues caused by the shutting of ports and transport between the UK and the EU due to Covid 19 compounding issues already created by an impending No Deal Brexit.

What is less known and not on the front pages is the impact Covid 19 and Brexit is having on smaller businesses throughout the UK.

Like many small businesses we depend on a regular supply of raw material from suppliers who in turn are sourcing from the EU. The UK is not self sufficient for timber and building materials.

Last week I had two delivery slots missed for much needed raw material and today I am informed there isn't a confirmed delivery date and I am waiting to know when it will be this week. When the stock is finally delivered it needs to be turned around quickly to satisy bespoke customer orders and projects, which are all backed up. Given the closeness now of Christmas, which adds even further pressure to couriers and supply chains, it is becoming unlikely I'll be able to turn around and deliver the orders before Christmas.

This is gutting as we will be breaking promises made to customers and letting them down.

Of course we have complained to the supplier in question but what can they do? Supply chains are complex machines which reach right across Europe, so no one supplier is to blame really in this particular chain.

It could be argued that maybe we should have ordered the stock earlier and foreseen the issues with Brexit and Covid 19. However, as a small enterprise with finite resources we cannot keep a very large amount of raw materials in our workshop 'just in case'. This impacts cashflow almost as bad as not getting or fulfilling orders at all, unused stock costs money and represents a loss to us unless it is used.

Like a lot of small businesses though we are realising that maybe that is the new reality and we have to invest in more storage look to carry higher levels of raw material to try and smooth out future shortcomings with supply chains. Uncertain times cost a lot of money.

We of course are apologising to our customers who are now unlikely to see their orders before Christmas. Some are understanding but sadly I have no doubt this will impact our new business very badly. I believe though we can survive, luckily we have the resources in the short term at least.

Like all of you though I cannot wait for this awful year to end!

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