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BTHA urges government to act over port delays

Trade body is calling on the government to help ‘save the festive season’ as suppliers and retailers caught up in delays.

The BTHA has called for action from the government to help ‘save the festive season’ after backlogs at Britain’s container ports, combined with pre-Brexit stockpiling and the pandemic mean that a vast number of toy deliveries are currently stuck.

“The BTHA is aware of the serious issues companies are currently facing in retrieving their stock at ports in Felixstowe and Southampton,” said a statement from the trade body. “Toy manufacturers are facing a drastic price increase on freight due to a shortage of capacity and containers which has seen prices increase 3-fold and as much as 4-fold in some cases.

“Vessels have been diverted to Rotterdam due to congestion at Felixstowe and will now miss the Christmas season. This is troubling for the toy industry who are under pressure to ensure children around the country get to open their exciting new toys on Christmas Day and into the New Year.

“We would urge the Government to help at this crucial time for business to save the festive season and alleviate blockages now ahead of the UK’s departure from the EU.”

A report on The Daily Mail quoted Thomas O’Brien, md of Leeds-based Boxer Gifts, saying that the company will lose £1 million this year because of stock delays, with its Christmas order not due until December 28.

In addition, Hellen Stirling-Baker, owner of a toy shop in Sheffield, commented that 40% of her annual turnover is tied up in a £20,000 shipment of Dinkum Dolls due in the autumn, but are now not likely to be delivered until January 7.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the BRC, joined the BTHA’s call for action, saying: “After a tremendously challenging 2020, many firms’ cashflows are under severe pressure, and so businesses are in no position to absorb these additional shipping costs. As a result, consumers will pay the final price.

“Christmas orders could be delayed, and retailers might be left with no option but to increase product prices. These issues must be addressed urgently. An inquiry would provide the scrutiny needed to help get our ports flowing freely again.”

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