John Lewis charters fleet of ships to build stocks

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
17 September 2021

John Lewis is chartering a fleet of ships to ensure stocks are available for Christmas.

The retailer said it had joined forced with other businesses to ensure products such as baubles, trees and toys arrived in the UK in time to ensure Christmas is “saved” this year, following 2020’s last-minute cancellation of family get-togethers due to Covid.

A John Lewis spokesperson said: “We’re chartering a fleet of extra ships alongside a number of other businesses to ensure that we have plenty of stock for our customers this Christmas.”

Walmart and Home Depot have made similar moves in the US, chartering ships to ensure supply is maintained despite blocked ports and a shortage of containers.

In the US consumers are being warned artificial Christmas trees could cost up to 25% more due to additional shipping costs, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Sharon White, chair of John Lewis, told the BBC: “We are chartering space in ships so that Christmas baubles and Christmas trees and all those toys and fantastic products arrive in the UK in time.”

She said John Lewis was employing 7,000 seasonal workers in preparation for the festive period and it had raised wages for HGV drivers in response to the driver shortage. “We raised wages a few weeks ago and we are finding we don’t have an issue,” White said.

The retailer has also found additional warehouse space. “We are acting at every part of the supply chain to ensure Christmas is saved this year,” White said.

Ocado has warned costs could rise by £5m as it raises wages and offers bonuses to attract delivery drivers, while Tesco and Arla have also introduced bonuses for drivers.

The HGV driver shortage is expected to last into 2022.

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