Ottawa businesses grapple with global supply chain disruptions

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“Nothing is working well, everything is painful. We have never, ever, ever experienced something like this.”

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In Laurysen Kitchens Ltd.’s 51-year history, the Stittsville-based cabinetmaking company has never encountered the supply chain issues it faced in 2021.

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It’s like the O train, where the wheels have fallen, ”explains co-owner Caroline Castrucci.

She gives a partial list of her supply-related heartaches. The company needs medium density fibreboard (MDF), but cannot obtain it. While Laurysen needs 4,000 hinges a week, she only gets 2,500. Door makers who used to complete orders in two weeks now take 10 to 14 weeks. About four months ago, Laurysen ordered a delivery truck, but was told last week that the supplier was canceling his order and returning his deposit.

Meanwhile, Laurysen’s business has grown by 40% over the past two years. But, due to supply issues, its products are now more expensive and take longer to manufacture. In recent years, a customer who ordered kitchen cabinets in mid-October received them before Christmas. Now, it may take until March or April of next year for pending orders to be filled, Castrucci says.

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“Nothing is working well, everything is painful,” she said. “We’ve never, ever, ever experienced something like this.”

Complaints like Castrucci’s resonate all over Ottawa and beyond as businesses large and small, and especially retailers, face price hikes, delays and shortages due to supply chains. world stressed and fractured by the pressures of the pandemic.

Months ago, shortages of lumber, computer chips and household appliances were among the first hot spots of global supply chain problems. Now disruptions are plaguing businesses across the spectrum, leading, for example, to signs on Starbucks sites saying certain items are unavailable and empty shelves in IKEA warehouses.

Lisa Huie, public relations manager for IKEA Canada, says supply chain disruptions, port congestion and historically high demand have shaken the ocean freight market, straining its entire industry. In response, IKEA is taking “extraordinary measures,” including purchasing its own shipping containers and chartering space on ships, she said.

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Huie encourages customers to check online before visiting IKEA stores to see if products are available.

In Ottawa these days, the availability and cost of everything from Scandinavian furniture and children’s snowsuits made in Asia to Russian buckwheat have been hit.

When Michelle Groulx, Executive Director of the Ottawa Business Improvement Areas Coalition, surveyed member companies in late August, she was surprised to find supply chain disruptions to be the most common challenge. cited, more than understaffing or capacity restrictions. Despite a small sample – only 145 out of about 4,000 companies responded – Groulx says this finding was significant.

It’s something everyone is concerned about, ”she said.

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Sheba Schmidt, co-owner of West End Kids on Richmond Road, says she expects almost 40% of her stock of winter outerwear, including items from well-known brands that she preferred not to name, which manufacture products in Turkey, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam and China.

“Most of the goods are on this side of the ocean. The problem is getting the containers out of the ships, ”she said.

Brands do their best to get their merchandise to West End Kids, shipping items by air rather than overland, Schmidt said. “It costs them a fortune. They don’t charge me. I will pay my normal freight.

She’s happy that customers who want certain brands to pre-sell items online that will hopefully arrive before the snow clears. But Schmidt says online order fulfillment has its own issues due to difficulties obtaining shipping materials and even ink cartridges.

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Justyna Borowska, owner of two Ottawa branches of Wedel Touch of Europe, says the prices of many of her imported groceries have risen significantly. Photo by Jean Levac /Postmedia

Schmidt says she doesn’t know what Black Friday price cuts she will be offering this year. ” I need to have my margin, to be honest. It has been a very, very difficult time for all business owners.

At the Modern Shop on Sussex Drive, owner Michael Shaikin says supply chain issues have doubled the wait for Scandinavian furniture.

In Poland or Latvia, made-to-order items can be almost ready to go, except they need Chinese-made screws and fasteners, which are scarce, he explains. The result is that goods are shipped 16 or 20 weeks after ordering instead of the usual eight or 10, he says.

Meanwhile, distributors are late because of containers being installed in ports and one of its American suppliers is so understaffed that two people are doing everything in its warehouse, he notes. “There are so many different stages in the delays,” he says.

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Store activity increased 24% during the pandemic, and Shaikin says he was on the move and ordered additional inventory when COVID-19 first hit. But, since then, worsening supply chain problems have driven prices up, he says. Shaikin gives the example of a chair that cost $ 480, but jumped to $ 700 when he called her.

“The brands say it will be six months before things normalize a bit, but I don’t think the prices are going to go down,” Shaikin said.

Justyna Borowska, owner of two recently opened Wedel Touch of Europe stores in Ottawa, says that of her many imported groceries, Russian buckwheat is the most difficult to find. She says she is on her final packages due to difficulties getting shipping containers from Russia to Montreal.

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Meanwhile, tariffs on premium Polish butter, which is high in fat and flavor, rose 200%, pushing its price several dollars to $ 18.99, according to Borowska.

She says she tries to keep her shelves well stocked – more than 18 countries are represented in her stores – by finding different suppliers across Eastern Europe.

In Orleans, Rissa Sant’anna, who makes small-batch soaps and body care products under her Aromariss brand, says she hasn’t raised prices despite the costs of ingredients like vegetable oils and oils. essential oils which increase between 15 and 20%. . “Castor oil comes from India… It used to be cheap,” she says.

Additionally, the containers Sant’anna uses to package her products are out of stock, she says.

Groulx says she hopes consumers will be patient with retailers at the mercy of suppliers. Buyers should continue to support Ottawa businesses rather than looking to large-scale sellers, Groulx says.

“Buy local and don’t look to Amazon,” she says. “They face the same problems. It is a global and unanimous issue for all. It’s not like you’re going to be satisfied sooner by going to a giant.

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