The combination of Covid-19 and Brexit are seriously affecting the availability of products and parts across all manufacturers and in all sectors. This is a brief insight into the problems we are experiencing as a small business and how this may affect you.
The global pandemic is affecting different countries in different ways. Despite striving to support UK business it is not possible to source all of our equipment from the UK. While the bulk of the products we sell are 'finished' here in the UK most of it is produced in Europe (Germany, France, Switzerland, Holland and Poland) and Asia (China and Taiwan). The rate of transmission, extent of lockdowns and rollout of vaccines is different in every country which means various factories are not operating at full capacity or are closed altogether.
Where factories are open and producing equipment, there are issues shipping it across the continent. A shortage of lorry drivers, couriers and containers means that equipment is stuck in a backlog, further increasing the delays. With production chains broken the shipping updates are not forthcoming as nobody can say for certain what the lead time is going to be.
With up to one hundred products or parts on order at any one time we rely on our manufacturers to get the equipment to us quickly and to provide us updates we can pass to you, our customers. With ~90% of products and parts delayed we are receiving a much higher number of calls and emails requesting updates. This increase in workload means we must carefully balance the need to support those with equipment on order with meaningful updates, alongside the new requests for support and service. We are doing our upmost to get the most precise updates we can, although the information we pass along is only as good as that which we are given.
As it stands, the UK is facing a shortage of staff due to the number of transmissions requiring isolation. The last news update suggested 10 million working days had been 'lost' to isolation in the last fortnight. As a company we have the facility to work from home when required and can access PCR testing and LFT testing to ensure we are not putting you at additional risk. We are also exempt from the need to self isolate on proof of a negative PCR, enabling us to continue to provide the services we do.
As of the end of July, none of our manufacturers had stock of scooters of any size with many on significant backorder. Powerchairs that are non-prescriptive are also in short supply. Custom made equipment is available, although the lead times are as much as four times longer than usual. The prices are relatively stable, although there are 5% price increases to offset shipping costs from some suppliers.
As a company we are working longer hours, have brought on an additional staff member and will be increasing our team size again before September. We are choosing NOT to pass the 5% price increase on at this time - a decision that puts us in the minority of companies. We are also being as transparent as we can about lead times, and trying to manage expectations as best we can. This isn't easy and your understanding is much appreciated.
We can see the light is at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel is getting longer on occasion without warning. Your ongoing support has not been overlooked and Chris and I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks for your ongoing support.
Remember - if you need something please send us an email if possible, or give us a ring on the shop number.