Malcolm Gough, Group Sales & Marketing Director Talasey Group is BMBI’s Expert for Natural Stone Landscaping Products, Vitrified Paving & Artificial Grass.
Demand for landscaping materials was very strong in Q4 2020. By the end of 2020, Talasey achieved annual sales well above expectations. Other landscaping firms also grew.
But now, in Q1 2021, the industry is at the epicentre of shipping problems from an unholy combination of Covid, Brexit, and container shortages. It’s a global shipping problem, so freight costs have risen to ridiculous levels for everyone, and it is not letting up. Some freight companies are even avoiding the UK due to long delays and excess paperwork. All areas in our sector are affected, and end users will inevitably be paying more for their landscaping products in 2021. Despite this we got every pack of stone we could get over the water in Q4 as we predicted stock would be king in Q1 with demand not letting up.
We kept shipping throughout December, even though it has been costly for us. Strategically that was a good decision because suppliers with stock on the ground can better support merchants. Merchants say, having stock on the ground is a priority and being put on a back-order waiting list does not generate sales.
High shipping costs and delays affect all our ranges coming from other countries like China, Italy, and Turkey. So, composite decking, porcelain and artificial grass could all be affected but having the foresight to build large stock reserves of these products we should be able to weather the storm until shipping prices soften. Companies who have not planned for this could be affected by having no stock or large price increases.
Customers are learning to adapt and increasing their knowledge about the ranges of products that are more easily available, for example considering porcelain as an alternative to sandstone. For ourselves, we have helped customers to get clear product information online and this will continue. We also have a strong marketing team assisting merchants with online images and product data. Feedback shows merchants appreciate this help and support.
It is still early in the landscaping season, but we’re already seeing merchants stocking up for what we expect will be a bumper 2021.