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Flooring Retailer Calls on Investors to Help with Solution to Supply Issues

Paul Hambidge Factory Direct Flooring

The founder of Midlands-based flooring manufacturer and retail firm Factory Direct Flooring (FDF) is calling on UK investors, entrepreneurs and manufacturers to assist with a long-term solution to the current supply issues that are impacting the home improvements, renovation and developer markets. While the hospitality and fast-food sector supply challenges have been highlighted in the media recently, stock across a wide number of sectors has become harder to obtain and with shipping costs spiralling, Paul Hambidge of FDF does not want to see tradesmen and UK consumers forced to bear the brunt of the ongoing global challenges. 

Paul warns that the current scenario of lower product supplies from the east and Europe is making availability of products for the trade and developer, and consumer markets, significantly lower and notably more expensive. The challenges, due to various issues caused by the pandemic and Brexit, are being further exacerbated by container shipping cost hikes and transport issues as a result of truck driver shortages, as well as the postponement of HGV lessons and tests during lockdown.

These challenges are now flooding all arms of the sector and are affecting tradespeople, main contractors and developers and homeowners. FDF is in a strong position due to its move to a larger warehouse earlier this year – which has allowed it to increase stock holding and strategically manage longer manufacturing and shipping lead times – but fresh, homegrown solutions to supply chain issues are needed fast to ensure businesses remain viable. 

Paul said: “Just as it has been heavily reported recently that many sectors such as food are experiencing supply issues that are impacting consumers, this is also happening in many other industries including ours. From building supplies through to home interiors products, a shortage of these items has a real knock-on effect. The issues are now affecting tradesmen who can’t get hold of products to complete domestic or commercial jobs, which could severely affect people’s livelihoods. Subsequently the UK economy is going to suffer once again.

“As a forward-thinking business that moved to a 40% larger warehouse earlier this year to be able to facilitate a 50% increase in stock holding, we’re in as good a position as we can be to weather this storm. But the truth is that this storm isn’t likely to blow over any time soon. There’s no quick fix, no real solution on the horizon and the situation will definitely get worse before it gets better. Tradespeople and consumers alike must brace themselves for prices to escalate further. Transport costs are rising unchallenged, because of demand: we’re paying around 7% more with some transport carriers, and some of this has to inevitably be passed on to the buyer. I can see this scenario continuing for at least another 18 months – unless of course there are investors who could step in and help with solutions to this growing crisis. It is certainly a market ripe for investment,” he added.

In addition to the issues that low product availability and transport challenges present, Paul adds that there is also a lull in development of new products and styles, which are normally refreshed regularly. 

He concluded: “We are doing our best to meet product demand through rigorous forward planning to bolster our large stock holding and keep it replenished. But as demand continues to out-strip supply, we can’t facilitate this indefinitely, and certainly can’t keep costs down where transport firms are hiking theirs, seemingly capitalising on the current supply issues. I am urging UK investors, entrepreneurs and manufacturers to seize this opportunity with both hands and help create targeted solutions for the supply issues affecting the home improvements, renovation and developer markets, or the picture in another 12-months’ time may not look good.”

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