Lakes comment: Q1 2019

Mike Tattam, Sales & Marketing Director Lakes, is BMBI’s Expert for Shower Enclosures & Showering.

Much as we’d like to, it’s hard to block out the effects of Brexit on our lives and businesses. The public has had enough, according to polls. They’d like a quick conclusion one way or another so they can move on. Businesses too are in limbo. Unable to plan with any certainty and faced with a confusing array of potential outcomes with unknowable consequences – and with no means of controlling the end game – businesses are just getting on with what’s in front of them.

They’re frustrated by having to divert their time and focus from helping customers compete more effectively and grow, to focusing on minimising the potential disruption and delays from one of these outcomes so they can compete at all.

Whether shower enclosure companies have their products made for them, or they manufacture as Lakes does in its own factory, most companies import, mostly from China. So, all brands have to factor in shipping, long lead times, port access, currency movements – and road haulage for the final leg of the journey – so customers can sell without disruption.

Compared with March, there have been fewer delays caused by ships being diverted from UK ports, but it can take 48 hours getting through French ports as customs officials start flexing their muscles. The Road Haulage Association says there are not enough HGV drivers in the UK, and many EU nationals are returning home because their markets are good, wages are improving and there’s plenty of work.

Many companies built up their stocks in Q1 to unprecedented levels to ensure continuity of supply in time for an unruly EU exit on 29th March. But carrying and funding up to five and half months’ stock, for example, in the short term is quite different from carrying it through to October 31st, the postponed exit date or beyond. Will brands unwind their stocks and rebuild them again for October, or maintain them at these levels? What will people do, and how well prepared are they for the financial after-effects? That could be the elephant in the room.

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