MINIMISING THE IMPACT OF PRODUCT SHORTAGES: JUNE 2021
The industry continues to experience a great number of product shortages, unfortunately all at the same time and with no sight of let down this year. Contractors, manufacturers and merchants alike are calling for as much information and notice as possible about current and future requirements, so together we can plan forward and minimise any impact.

Since our last update in May we have seen contractors sharing supply requirements ahead of time, manufacturers moving to more formal supply processes, such as allocations and closed order books, to ensure a robust supply, and as a merchant we are looking to support and identify alternative supply, transport and technical solutions. 
ALTERNATIVE SUPPLY OPTIONS

Our branches in the South West are sourcing full loads of cement from the Republic of Ireland and we have secured a supply for our South East branches of 1.5 tonne bulk bags of cement.

As a merchant we still have strong stock holdings in place across our national-network, however with so many suppliers so dramatically impacted our Category team continue to work tirelessly to identify alternative suppliers to keep the stock levels as high as possible and leadtimes as short as we can.
TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS

With plastic products affected greatly, we currently have a number of contractors considering alternatives - concrete for large diameter, and clay for 100-300mm sewer applications. As an example of this, one of our key suppliers Wavin supplies both plastic and clay drainage, with Hepworth clay drainage being a suitable and more readily available alternative. Technical information and support is being provided to help those on site wishing to make the switch - along with a national price promotion to assist with the cost difference.  Our nationwide-network of branches holds in stock the UK’s largest volume of Wavin’s Hepworth clay drainage, the UK’s leading brand.  

Expectations are across the market that we will soon see aggregates shortages on top of the current restrictions of cement supply, however reviewing the sub-base provides alternative product solutions - including products not currently impacted by extended leadtimes. For example, the use of Geogrids and Geotextiles to reinforce geotechnical structures is commonplace, along with the use of a base layer - usually made of aggregate - placed on a subgrade soil. This can be reinforced by Geogrids placed within the base layer and/or, more often, at the base layer/subgrade interface. This reduces the requirements for aggregates and  offers a reinforcement that improves the performance of the structure. Keyline is the largest UK stockist of the market leading Tensar Geogrids and Terram Geotextiles both of which have good availability throughout our branch network. 
TRANSPORT OPTIONS

The haulage industry is said to be experiencing the "perfect storm", caught between Brexit and COVID-19. It said there were about 60,000 driver shortages and that about 30,000 HGV driving tests were lost last year because of COVID-19 in the UK.*

We have seen international issues, but more locally the impact on import timescales and processes, EU citizens not meeting the new criteria for skilled work visas, the need to invest in the domestic workforce at a challenging time, along with the impact of COVID-19 on staffing levels and the shift of workers to supermarkets are all resulting in a driver shortage for our industry. 

As a result we are investigating alternative logistic options with our manufacturing partners - some contractors have collected goods themselves directly from manufacturers, in addition out of hours deliveries are being offered by a number of suppliers to remove the bottleneck and keep supply to site.
Key to all of this, is to keep our industry moving forward and to minimise the impact on sites - communication with each other is key. By planning forward together we are able to identify appropriate solutions and we would strongly encourage all of our customers to work with us and make contact with your local team to forward plan.  

Again we thank our customers for their continued support and understanding at this challenging time. We also appreciate that price increases continue to be an ongoing issue, these are published on our website here and will continue to be updated with any new increases received. We ask that you work with us as closely as possible in order that we can identify the best possible solution and minimise impact wherever possible. - please speak to your local branch or sales contact who will be able to support you. 

*Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-57354636
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