Onwards & Upwards
There is a hint in the air that the world is settling down a little. The warehouse continues to be well stocked with 100% of the top 250 core lines in stock for next day delivery
Orders placed before 4pm and invariably 5pm are being dispatched the very same day for next working day delivery - we may have a few earlier cut-offs as we approach Christmas and certainly in the first few weeks of January.
There are less surprises in the supply chains as long lead times are becoming the norm so we can program them into the purchasing system. It does make a difficult situation however when demand surges and replacement stock takes upto 16 weeks to arrive.
Container pricing has just dropped to below USD 2000, down from USD 20,000 ! It will take at least 3-4 months to feed through to customer prices as a container takes 4-5 weeks to arrive and we have 8 plus weeks of stock in store.
The energy price caps in Europe have brought down some tissue prices and as we work through our 8 plus weeks of stock buffer we will be bringing down our prices where we can.
Your Vinyl glove prices have been reduced yet again and now sit at £2.09, down from £2.50 per box just a few months ago. We anticipate further falls.
Port strikes do not appear to be affecting us much although ships schedules are now very unreliable and arrival times is easily plus or minus a week.
The USD sitting at 1.15 to the GBP is still a brutal rate and directly adding 22% to the price of many products compared to an exchange rate of 1.4 earlier in the year (and even 1.4 we thought was low !)
Our buyers are taking the opportunity to travel and audit suppliers around the world and the UK. After so many years of restrictions it will yield huge dividends for our supply chain integrity and enable us to find good new sources of supply.
On the web, we are introducing lots of new features that make it easier for you to buy previously purchased items and reminders about what you may have forgotten on your order. Feedback is extremely welcome. Love it or hate it, please let us know.
Direct debit is becoming increasingly popular and comes with a full repayment guarantee, no questions asked. It makes your life so much easier and work well for us. Please consider helping us to keep our costs down and apply here.
Feels like we have a short run now to Christmas. We look forward to having the opportunity to look after you between now and then.
Abnormally normal (updates in Bold)
4 6 months of constantly challenging business conditions, we have started accepting an abnormal situation as normal. Actually, things are running pretty well.....
- Warehouse is fully stocked and almost always dispatching all orders received up to 4pm or 5pm for next day delivery
- Supplier lead times are horrendous in many cases, but we are managing to order extra early, hold more stock and where necessary buy from another source
- Container prices have started to come down nicely just as the Great British Pound lurches down to the lowest level against the US dollar ever seen in living memory. The move from 1.4 USD to the GBP to
1.21.15 is a straightforward 15%22% increase in the buying price of many products.
- Crazily high gas prices make tissue products expensive and prone to more shocks as Putin plays games with European supplies
- Vinyl glove prices have come down from a COVID high of £6.50 to just £2.50 per box of 100 and will drop further. Wherever possible we will reduce prices for everyone without you needing to ask
- Carriers are working reasonably well, driver shortage is not as acute as it was. That is only after they have put up prices by 30%+ to cope with inflation and fuel costs. Parcel Force are one of our three carrier partners, we have moved nearly all our freight away from them as they are currently striking. This will minimise any disruption.
- Sales of COVID tests have
picked updropped dramatically in the last few weeks reflecting the wider surgedrop in the press. If that can happen in the summer, the winter could be difficult.
- Local lockdowns in China are a worry as it could easily be a port or industrial region that is next. Our diversified supply base helps mitigate this in most cases. So far so good, no major problems.
- Port strikes at Felixstowe will add to the disruption. We expect to be able to ride out the situation given that we mainly use Southampton port and have good stock levels.
There is a ship with two of our containers on that has sat at sea for 2 weeks not moving. We can only assume it has suffered a breakdown because the shipping line has not revealed why. This will once again mess up port schedules and probably extend a 4 week journey from the Far East into an 8 week saga. Fortunately, we have the stock in the warehouse to bridge the gap.
It is very much business as usual in an unusual world. Harder work but working !
Until next time, No news is good news and we will do our best to keep you supplied and updated.
Here we go again
In the last update, we were worried about a China Lockdown. Unfortunately, it has happened and has been going on for the last 5 (as of 10th May) weeks. Our office in Shanghai had this to say:
“Still in full lockdown – for already 30 days. It’s complicated to buy groceries and stuff, which is even more ridiculous. It’s very shocking how badly it’s managed, and every measurement is wrong. Quite hopeless…Now no one knows when the lockdown will be over, but could be mid or end May or June..”
The implications of this are just massive. The port of Shanghai is the largest in the world and handles a million containers per week ! Some ships are being loaded by workers who are literally living at the port and not allowed home. Berth congestion has left 500 ships just waiting to dock in the South China Sea.
Fortunately, the majority of our freight comes out of Qingdao to the North of Shanghai, but the picture there is not substantially better. The effect on the UK supply of products is very much delayed because currently we are receiving stock that shipped pre Chinese lockdown. In two months time, we can expect to see the supply situation in the UK becoming very constrained once again. Gompels will be working closely with our suppliers and customers to mitigate as much of the potential disruption as possible. At this stage, like last time, we have no idea how long this supply crunch will continue. It is certainly not on the scale of 2020 Covid supply crisis, but the longer it goes on for, the more parts of the supply chain it will affect.
In addition, I think we need to be realistic about a number of other challenges on the horizon:
- The Russia / Ukraine War - What happens next?
- A Covid variant of major concern - who knows what another variant would bring?
- A recession. We are all spending a lot more on fuel, energy and food, so there is less to spend on the nicer things in life and that means consumer spending will drop
- Lots of things that we cannot foresee
We are about as stocked up in the warehouse as we possibly can to mitigate the impact of any future challenges, whatever they may be. Our procurement team feels your pain when a line goes out of stock and we are committed to do our very best to keep key lines in stock. If that means shutting the doors to new customers then we will do that, because our overriding aim is to keep you supplied. We recognise that we are only here because you have been good enough to choose Gompels over anyone else.
A little recommendation...
For far too long, a book called Thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman was sitting on the side waiting to be read. Turns out that it is an amazing book that will help you understand the limitations of your decision making and built in bias that lead to making the wrong choices in life, business and stock management. The only consolation was that before this one, The Changing world order by Ray Dalio was busy putting a lot of what is happening in the world into context. Both books are massively informative and too good to ignore.
We didn't expect it to end this way
The supply chain has experienced more shocks and stress in the last 12 months than in anytime in the last 20 years. It is incredible how events can bunch up and deliver right, left, right, left punches, perfectly timed and one after the other.
Just when we thought manufacturing would catch up and container prices would come down, Russia delivers the next blow with record energy prices and price inflation that is beyond a sane mans comprehension.
To give you an example, from our European based tissue supplier, we received a letter stating that from the 15th March we either accepted a 20% price rise or they would shut the papermill and cease production. Whilst our initial reaction is anger, the next day, another tissue supplier sent an email through imposing a 22% rise. Sadly, they are not making it up. Tissue manufacture requires a huge amount of gas to dry a slurry of fibres into a layer of beautiful absorbent tissue. That gas has gone up in 6 months from 50p per therm to well over 300p per therm. At Gompels we are always transparent with our customers so you can read a copy of the letters below.
Our job is to keep you supplied day in day out with all the products that you need. We will do that at the lowest possible price and when we can drop prices we will. That is what we have done since 1967 and will keep doing. In April, the price of aprons and gloves once again dropped because we are able to buy stock at a lower price and have passed that saving on to you. We want you to stick with us for the long term and means keeping prices for quality products as low as possible.
In Others News
March saw the release of some brand new offers across all categories. For nurseries we've got some fantastic special offers on Sun Cream, whilst for Care there are new lower prices on PPE and great deals on Infection Control and First Aid.
We've got an exciting new range in the pipeline for those who are looking for eco-alternatives. We don't want to give too much away the moment but the plastic savings will be astronomical and the pricing will be ultra competitive if not better than before!
For those who love our online training stay tuned for the release of some new nursery videos with our brand new trainer. Now COVID restrictions have been dropped and the world becomes more comfortable with returning to the office, it's about time we got the balling rolling. All being well we should have some new content over the next few months.
Lockdowns In China
While it seems we've made it through the worst of COVID here in the UK, China is facing unprecedented outbreaks. Hopefully things will remain under control and we can ensure timely shipments of goods and keep our stock levels high.
- Shenzhen warehouses are currently closed for a week for loading/unloading. Guangzhou can be used as an alternative route until the warehouses re-open
- Hong Kong- open and running as normal, however with COVID numbers rising, operations will be monitored
- Shanghai/Ningbo/Xiamen - open and running as normal
- Tianjin/Quingdao - open and running as normal
Things are easing a bit, but only a bit. The good news is that we have managed to boost our stock levels enormously and now feel more confident than ever that we will be able to keep you well supplied over the coming months.There is not much change from the December update, we are not out of the woods yet.
Carbon offsetting review
During 2021 we have given you the option to use the new Carbon Offset tool when placing online orders. This allows you quickly offset the products you are purchasing and support community projects around the globe. Since launching in February 2021, you have offset over 125 tonnes of CO2e. You could also calculate that as 60 cars driven for a year!
What's new for Early Years
We've just launched a small range of gardening essentials including flower seeds, vegetables seeds, pots, tools and more! It is almost time for sowing seeds so make sure you get your orders in soon. We have also launched our own brand small world animals, some jubilee bunting and board games.
What's new for Care
We've developed a new range of premium incontinence products designed to cover all incontinence needs, including super absorbent pads, chair protection and bedding protectors. Designed with the end-user in mind, Suresy products have a breathable design which helps keep the skin dry and reduce the risk of rashes and sores. The quick dry layer draws fluids away from the skin, locking them away in the core of the product. The super stretchy leak proof cuffs ensure that the pads shape to any individual and the fabric-back design is rustle-free and discreet. You can be rest assured that any Gompels branded range like Suresy will deliver outstanding results like you would expect from the world leading brands like Tena, Lille and iD.
Hopping The Hurdles
In normal times, our primary focus is to have a wonderful range of products that represent best value for money. Today, our focus is on keeping that wonderful range in stock so that you can have it delivered tomorrow.
Our suppliers continue to battle huge issues and have not been slow at pushing through price rises. Some are opportunistic, but the vast majority are because the costs of production and transport are going through the roof. Take tissue for example, a classic perfect storm where everything moves at once in the same (wrong) direction. Pulp prices up, gas up, packaging up, transport up, value of the £ down. To make matters worse, some mills have decided that given the high gas prices they would rather stop production and carry out essential maintenance than lose money. The overall result is a shortage of product in the market and in our consumer led economy, not many people are prepared to give up using tissue just because the price has gone up.
Many of our customers stay with us for years because they know our pricing remains competitive over the long term. Our commitment to keep prices low remains but at the moment we are sometimes having to pay a premium just to secure stock ahead of another hungry buyer. As always, we will not have any across the board price increases, we will only put up prices in line with our purchases costs and reduce prices just as soon as we can. The pandemic has been good for some things. Alcohol gel is now £1.99 per 500mls rather than £2.49 back in 2019 and there are a few other examples.
Looking forward, we have Christmas, Omicron and Chinese New Year to get through. Realistically the situation cannot start improving until at least Mid 2022 and that assumes that Omicron does not shut down Chinese production again for 2 months. Most countries struggled with a zero covid strategy once the Delta variant tested their defences. Omicron appears to be even more infectious and could well challenge the Chinese/Far east policy of zero covid amongst the population.
Our policy of holding vastly more stock than any accountant would be comfortable with has held us in good stead over the last two years and we continue to follow the same policy. At the moment we are managing to keep and in most cases build stock levels on key lines. There will be times when we do not have a non essential product, colour or pack size for which we hope you will forgive us.
Shipping Container Costs
WCI Shanghai to Rotterdam is probably the most relevant one for the UK. Very tentative signs and it will take many months to feed through into stock that is for sale in the UK as rates are booked several months in advance of arrival in the UK. Shipping is also only 1 of many factors that is making the prices of products rise at the moment. Christmas and Chinese New Year will not help the situation.
Here is an email we received just before Christmas from a paper manufacturer. We receive these on a weekly basis across all sectors.
Dear Valued Customer,
The Tissue sector has faced unprecedented challenges throughout 2021, and its economic sustainability may even be at stake if nothing changes.
###### has done everything to try to mitigate these risks and their effects on customers, however, it is necessary to increase prices further. Whilst we have strived to manage costs wherever possible and to minimise any price increase to our customers, we find it necessary to raise prices as our efforts to improve productivity, efficiency and reduce energy consumption continue to be outpaced by the rapid increases in raw material, transportation, packaging, and energy costs.
Thus, we hereby communicate our pricing policy for the start of 2022 and share information about the context in which paper production finds itself.
Although during the last quarter of 2021 we have carried out price increases, they have not even served to offset the increase in raw material, let alone energy costs, transport, packaging and labour costs. Raw Material, Energy and Transport represent about 90% of the global cost.
At this time, the sustainability of our operation requires an effective repercussion of these cost increases in the price of our products, so we will need to apply further increases in the New Year.
To ensure maximum flexibility with our customers, we will seek to communicate future adjustments as early as possible.
We are aware that these are tough measures, but necessary to allow us to assume and maintain the commitment to supply stability, business sustainability and partnership relationships with our customers.
Finally, our continuing goal is to deliver the best possible quality and service with the most favourable economics. This increase will help us to maintain these proven standards. We wish to take this opportunity to thank you for your business and rest assured we will continue to work hard to maintain supply and service levels to your business in this period of extraordinary challenges.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding.
The situation has not drastically changed from the September update. Our focus over the month has been two fold.
- Do what we can to avoid opportunistic price rises by a few suppliers and service providers. We get that prices need to go up, sometimes drastically but making sure that there is full justification for the scale of the increase is key.
- Increasing stock holdings on lines where we feel that there is scope for supply issues. We have allocated a further 2000 pallet spaces to hold additional stock and the funds to fill the space with as much stock as possible. This will help hold off any future price rises and mean that we have stock should there be a supply interruption on a key line.
- Our crystal ball is not perfect. Currently we have 98.6% of our products in stock and ready for next day delivery. Most of the products that we are missing are classed as non essential. We hope life goes on without bark squares for arts and crafts. Our aim is to always find an alternative for critical products so that you are not faced with a major problem. We see our role as being your procurement department who moves heaven and earth to keep you supplied.
General stock update
We continue to fight supplier out of stocks and plugging gaps where possible but the main issues are:
- UK importers have no stock on the floor, so they physically can't supply. They are impacted by delayed shipments or their decision to reduce order frequency whilst raw materials and freight costs are so high
- Paper mill costs have rocketed due to gas increases. This has increased prices for the converters. Secondly, raw materials are stuck at the ports due to lack of transport. This has led to shortages of blue paper in particular. All paper products have been affected
- We are receiving daily price increases across our full product range. Inflationary pressures such as energy, transport and raw materials appear out of control, with many factories offering no notice for increases and refusal to supply without accepting
- Vinyl gloves - Our factories are slowing down production due to energy restrictions imposed by the Chinese government. All orders are delayed, so we are doing what we can to get them shipped asap. Pricing is on the up again
A surprisingly helpful website from the Government on Climate change and Environmental impact. There are lots there so make sure you have enough time to take a good look. https://businessclimatehub.org/uk/
During the month, we have been busy updating our website:
- Analytics reports are much faster to download
- Consolidated invoices corrected
- Dropship items have a much smaller badge so you can see the images better
- New craft items and chairs for schools which have a 10 year guarantee
Surprises from the COVID calamity continue to create chaos in the economy. The COVID storm is now presenting very real supply chain challenges for everyone and this really is not business as usual:
- A shortage of drivers and workers in general means deliveries will be bumpy. If a driver does not turn up for work, there are no reserves and most companies are short anyway and yet over promise and under deliver
- COVID outbreaks are happening and that can leave for example, depot teams struggling to work at even half the normal capacity
- Container prices from the Far East remain at record high levels of up to £20,000 that can mean that goods can cost 2- 3x more than they used to if you can get space on a boat
- UK producers are working flat out and facing supply restrictions, labour restrictions and price increases. The knock on effects are huge
- Supplier lead times can jump from weeks to months in the space of days
Sadly, like COVID, few people/companies are immune and despite much bravado, even the mighty can have trouble.
Behind the Scenes
Behind the scenes, Gompels are working hard to mitigate the worst effects. You know you have the right supplier when:
- They are insisting on masks for all employees at work to minimise the risk of having an outbreak. Pickers walking 15km per day in a mask are making a real sacrifice in the name of continuity
- Stock holdings are running at 3x the normal level so that we have the greatest possible chance of being able to bridge gaps in supplies arriving
- Plans are in place to shut the website to new customers so that existing customers can be protected and kept well supplied
- Three delivery partners are used every day so we can pull on their strengths and send freight out with greater reliability
- The purchasing team have been able to switch major lines from Chinese sourcing to UK/European sources so that there are no supply interruptions
- There is the option for you to have a stock reserve facility so that you can "put your name on our stock" and be sure that it is available for when you need it. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
- There is openness and honesty about the problems we face
Our expectation is that the situation will not ease until at least Spring next year. There are the pleasures of Christmas and Chinese New Year to get through. A high percentage of products that you buy are either made in the Far East or have a component not made in the UK. That exposes everyone to the trouble in world trade and "post" COVID recovery Britain.
Help Us To Help You
The Help Hub is a great way to ask us a question and we will respond within a couple of hours. It is quicker for you than using the phone and helps us to sort the problems and get back to you pronto.
Spooky Halloween Crafts
Be sure to check out our arts and crafts range for some Halloween ideas!
Have we got stock for you?
Just in time logistics is all very well when supply chains are running smoothly and there are no Brexits, Covids or shipping issues. Sadly, the last few years have taught us that stock is key to surviving a perfect storm. That is why we have more than doubled our stock holding and filled up every available pallet space with as much stock as possible. All 10,000 spaces at our main logistics hub are earning its keep and making sure that we are doing what we can to keep you fully supported through thick and thin. This time last year, we were just opening up to new customers having reserved all our stock for loyal regular customers. We hope that things do not get that bad ever again, but we have to be alert to the possibility and whilst we welcome new customers today, when they try to take all the stock that we have, we will shut the doors.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
With a national shortage of drivers and whole teams being told to isolate at a moments notice, it is almost impossible to guarantee that service will not be a little bumpy over the coming months. We have one of the most resilient delivery networks possible. Three different companies, with three different networks all striving to provide a next day delivery service. We can pull on their strengths and move freight around when one has problems. We are however seeing everyone struggle and the purpose of these newsletters is to keep you in the picture. When you are in a desperate hurry, you can be sure that is the one time the delivery will be delayed. Our advice to all our customers is to stock up a little and be ready for the Covid curse to continue.
Price of a container from China was $2500, now $18,000. When the value of stock in the container is $15,000 then the Cost price of the stock is going to be double. Low value bulky products are going to suffer the most.... products like bins, facial tissues and black sacks. Reshoring to the UK many of the items produced in the Far East is possible, but we are seeing vastly increased supply times as the UK does not have huge amounts of reserve capacity just waiting to be brought into production. Most companies can increase by 20 to 50% but not 3x or 5x in the space of months.
Fresh air is now known to be one of the great ways of stopping the spread of Covid. Measuring freshness is easy with a CO2 monitor. Whilst normal outdoor CO2 levels are around 450 parts per million, an indoor room with several people in (such as an office) and poor ventilation will rapidly rise to over 2000ppm. Recent information from the Covid SAGE committee has advocated indoor CO2 levels should not exceed 1000ppm, thus ensuring sufficient "fresh" air is circulating. Portable monitors are available and cost £60 (ex.VAT)
We are experiencing some delivery bumps as the couriers fight driver shortages and use a higher percentage of agency drivers. It is unfortunate and we are doing what we can to mitigate any issues. With record volumes in the networks and an economy in overdrive, we remain vigilant.
On the 17th June, our card processing provider was unable to process your card transactions. It is one of those outages that we can do very little about but we did manage to ship all orders normally that evening for next day delivery.
To maintain security for your payments, we have now rolled out a new level of payment processing security. That does mean that sometimes you will be asked for confirmation by phone or text messages of payments made. Any problems please let us know. Regular customers can set up a credit account and pay by direct debit. It works really well for 1000's of our customers.
Particularly the older versions are becoming obsolete and may make the website work bumpily or not at all. Whilst we can try to keep it all working, we would encourage you to update your browser to a newer more secure version.
Changes to the login and checkout on the website are intended to make your journey smoother and more in line with common practice. We hope it works for you.
What goes up, must come down
Many parts of the economy are beginning to see shortages of supply and rising prices. Sadly, the daily disposables and janitorial markets are no different. A perfect storm has brewed a beauty that takes some believing
- World freight movements mean that there is a lack of empty containers in China
- Shipping lines make more money on China >> USA routes so they divert there ships
- The Ever Given ship stuck in the Suez started the ball rolling
- Pre Covid several shipping lines went out of business
- A port blocked with containers cannot unload or reload a ship efficiently so a bad situation gets worse
The net effect is that the cost of bringing a container back from the Far East is now running at £15,000. That can be more than the cost of the contents ! Whilst we are making every effort to buy the same products in the UK or Europe, everyone is trying the same thing so lead times are going up and up.
The situation could take until this time next year to play out. There is nothing like a shortage to boost demand, that will probably last for the summer 2021, come the autumn, Christmas stock will be taking up lots of capacity. That is followed by a surge in freight trying to get out of China before the Chinese New Year in February.
On the plus side, we have done our usual and stocked up as much as we dare so that we can keep you supplied. If things get notably worse then we will protect our stock for our regular customers and do our very best to keep you well supplied all the way through. We managed it in Round I and expect to be well placed for Round II
Sunny Side Up
For the time being at least, it appears that COVID is firmly in the box and there is a sense of normality returning to life. Finally, we are getting some consistent data appearing that lets us forecast demand and make accurate orders. You will have been frustrated by the number of product code changes that have been happening. There has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes to make sure that we have products in stock for you every day of the week. When demand is all over the place and supplies take up to 16 weeks to arrive, there is a limit to how consistent we can be. The good news is that over the summer we should be able to start reducing the number of changes.
Events like the Ever Given container ship getting stuck in the Suez canal have however only compounded the problem. Now all the boats and containers are bunched up and getting space on a boat can involve waiting weeks rather than days. To cope with all of this, we have tripled the value of the stock that we hold and will continue to patch in other codes/stock whenever we can. We see our role as being your purchasing agent and that means we have to have stock available for when you need it.
Supply issues are easing but free PPE from Government is creating huge problems in the market
Antibac wipes and sprays
Non woven product like wipes and cloths
Some delays as world mask usage sucks in volume
The supplier has ceased production as a result of having very small premises that were not COVID friendly
Freight rates from China
Currently running at about £5000-6000 per container, normally £2000-3000
Generally good and back to normal, but like vaccines, supply chains can be dependent on parts from all around the world
Apart from some extra admin, no real effect on supplies from Europe
The office team
Mostly working from our bright and airy offices, nicely socially distant with CO2 monitoring to make sure the air is fresh
The warehouse team
Still working on 2 shifts so that we can keep the numbers lower in the warehouse
Last orders is currently 3pm because of the shifts, but if it is urgent please call and we will do our best to help up to 5pm
Generally working well despite having a 30% increase in business from changes in ordering patterns by consumers
If you would like to guarantee stock availability then we have a unique facility that will reserve our stock just for your sites in the event of any supply problems. Please send an email to email@example.com if you would like any further information. The minimum reserve is £10,000 of stock and there is a monthly cost of 3% for the storage and cash tied up.
Our favourite COVID website
We are very pleased to be in Wiltshire with very low infection rates
Recent innovations on the website
You can now raise your concerns online and get a response by email. Customers are finding that it works really well and the response time is usually under 2 hours.
Our service of the month is our new carbon offsetting tool!
You can offset the Carbon dioxide or equivalent global warming gas of your order at checkout time. We have teamed up with a company who provides carbon credits at a very reasonable rate and added the facility to offset the products that you are buying at the web check out stage. Take a look at the community projects here
Covid Hangover Party
It feels a bit like it. We may have Covid under control, the Chinese are back from their 3 week mega shutdown for their New Year celebrations and Brexit is so far not having much effect on our supply lines. We are however still suffering a headache on a few fronts
- Nitrile and latex gloves are still at crazy prices because world production has not yet caught up with world demand
- Vinyl gloves are in abundant supply because of the government's decision to offer free PPE to care homes. However the prices paid to the factories for these gloves was huge as they were purchased at the peak of the pandemic
- A few stock lines are not available because containers that normally take 4 weeks have been taking 8+ weeks to arrive
- Prices on many lines are creeping up to pay for the extra costs of freight (containers rose from £2000 to £12,000 each just for transport). Many of our suppliers are putting on surcharges and we can understand why! The value of the stock held in some containers filled with tissue or plastic cups for instance, is only worth about £10,000, the freight prices will more than double the cost price.
- It is difficult to know from day to day what the demand or the overall volume of business will be. Surging demand for a product can reduce what would normally be a couple of months' worth of stock, down to a stock shortage in just a few weeks
Despite the challenges, all customers' orders placed before 3pm are being shipped on a Next working day service. The carriers are working well and have ironed out most of their kinks associated with a surge in online orders. Our stock levels have never been higher as we have managed to build up our buffers. This means that with the exception of just a few problematic stock lines, we are fulfilling almost every order on time and in full.
New this month is the ability to offset the Carbon dioxide or equivalent global warming gas of your order at checkout time. We have teamed up with a company who provides carbon credits at a very reasonable rate and added the facility to offset the products that you are buying at the web check out stage. Certificates will then be available for you to download and print on an annual basis.
Lockdown monotony can hide a lot of hard work that is going on beneath the surface. We are pleased to be able to support our customers who are open. We know how hard it can be to keep the show on the road and give a seamless experience to your customers.
Not too much has changed from last months update
- The warehouse is dispatching all orders on time and in full every day, provided we receive it before 3pm. Deliveries are good
- We have 97%+ of lines in stock and ready to be picked for you
- There are too many code/product changes for our liking but this is because we are doing our best to patch up any stock shortfalls with temporary supplies from other sources
- Vinyl gloves have now dropped from £6.40 to £5.49/100 as we see the first signs of glove prices reducing. All of our customers will benefit from this reduction and we hope to be able to keep the prices falling over the coming months
- February also saw price reductions on many other lines from face masks to antibac cleaner
- Nitrile and latex glove prices reflect the difficulties of maintaining supplies. If we don't pay, we have no stock. The factories have had Covid outbreaks and world demand is still massive for latex and nitrile in particular
- Container delays have led to some wipes going out of stock but we have it well covered with stock from other suppliers
- Our stocks in the warehouse have never been higher in terms of volume and value so we are as well placed as we can be for the next perfect storm
- The cost of bringing containers from China and the far East remain at record levels and this will inevitably affect pricing in the future
- Chinese New Year is on the 12th February and isolation requirements in China are likely to make the shutdown longer than usual. Hopefully the festivities will not create too many outbreaks that result in areas of China going into full lockdown
- Our staff are testing themselves at home on a Monday and Wednesday for Covid using our lateral flow tests, they are an effective screening technique for a mostly healthy population
Our mission throughout the crisis has been to be to keep our loyal customers supplied as best we can through thick and thin. If that means closing the door to new customers and re-introducing our PPE+ Pass system then we will do so in order to preserve our stocks. We exist because you are good enough to choose Gompels as your supplier and we will do our best to repay that when things get difficult. Hopefully those days are behind us, but we cannot be sure.
To help remote working and to make life easier for you, we now have a comprehensive online Concerns system that guarantees you a quick response and is soooo much quicker than ringing up. If goods are missing or damaged, we want to know and put it right as soon as possible.
Knowing what COVID is going to throw at us next is at best a game of guesses and often results in being totally wrong. Right now, the biggest issue that we are facing is massively high sea freight rates. In normal times, it costs about £2,000 to bring a container from China. Today, that price is nearer £14,000 and it is likely to take twice as long as normal to arrive. Supply chains were already stretched and this has stretched them further than we ever expected. Prices of some bulky low value Far East products will inevitably have to rise. As always, we will do our very best to keep the lid on those rises and bring them back down just as soon as we can re-source the products from the UK or get cheaper freight rates.
Fortunately, our stock buffers are enabling us to keep up with our same day dispatch (3pm cut-off) and we do not envisage any critical product outages over the next month or so. 97.6% of lines are as of today (5th Jan 2020) in stock and available for immediate delivery. Despite best efforts, we have not been able to find options to navigate around a worldwide shortage of large (blue) and extra large gloves. Brexit remains an unknown quantity and we may be in the lull before the storm....or there is no storm and the European imports flow perfectly well. Either way, we have buffer stocks and have signed up for every government scheme going to keep critical freight moving across the English Channel.
Our online range of tools continues to grow and we are encouraging all our customers to place orders online, raise queries online and find all of your invoices ready to download. Our aim is to be the most efficient, most price competitive supplier on the planet and the more you can use the online services, the lower we can make our prices. Direct Debit is a huge time saver for us and for you. The Direct Debit guarantee means that instant refunds are available should you not agree with the amount that we take. Please help us to help you and pay by Direct Debit, it is a good quick win.
As 2020 draws to a close, we shall never forget the year that was Covid, the friends and family that we lost and the tough decisions that had to be taken. We are grateful to all our customers for their patience and understanding throughout. Our guiding light was to look after our regular customers first and foremost so that together we could look after the sick, the frail, the young, the vulnerable and continue our wonderful partnership.
Experiencing unlimited demand for very limited stock was difficult at the best of times. The rule book was useless and the only option was to follow hunches and try desperately not to get too much wrong. PPE passes pretty much saved the day and despite a few moans and groans, they gave us a flood control device that preserved the stock and let the warehouse cope with the massive volumes that were being shipped.
During 2021 we will be doing what we can to bring down prices. We have got most of them down to their pre Covid levels and we will not rest there despite the challenges. Freight rates have doubled recently and long delays in getting on a boat from the Far East have become the norm. On the plus side, the pound is a little stronger and many manufacturers are hungry for volume.
The purchasing team is working overtime to get the limited number of out of stock items back in for you. Supply challenges still poke their ugly head up in the strangest of places and demand is unpredictable. It adds up to a beautiful puzzle that we are striving to solve so that we can continue to supply you with what you need, when you need it. To cope with Brexit, Chinese New Year and who knows what else might come along, our stock levels have been doubled and we are pulling out all the stops to make this difficult time another success.
May we wish you a healthy, happy Christmas full of joy and laughter. Should you need anything then please give us a try and we will do our best to get it to you. Together we care for so many special people who really need us this Christmas. Let's heal the wounds of Covid and enjoy the new normals.
Updated* Situation and outlook for Healthcare supplies
Now that the government is supplying some of the PPE needs of Care homes and other social care providers, a little of the heat has gone out of the market. That means that orders placed before 2-3pm are nearly always dispatched for next day delivery. There are still many bumps in the supply chains, often in areas that you would least expect . Where we cannot bridge the gaps in supply with our much enlarged stock holding then we endeavour to get supplies from an alternative manufacturer. This invariably results in a stock code change which, although a nuisance does at least mean that we have some stock for you.
- Nitrile gloves stocks are limited and shortages are forecast, prices are embarrassingly high
- Latex and Vinyl gloves, factory prices still rising but stock is arriving regularly
- Aprons, no problems envisaged
- Mask prices falling dramatically, we are working seriously hard to have the right quality, price and volumes available for you
- Alcohol gel and infection control/cleaning chemicals , no shortages envisaged now that production has geared up
Situation and outlook for Healthcare supplies
It was only last week that I said “The great guessing game has begun in earnest. Will there be a second wave ? will there be shortages again ? Do I need to stock up ?”
News of the second wave has once again dramatically increased the demand for PPE. This time around, we are pleased to report that we have stock, we have supplies arriving regularly and we expect to be able to keep all our regular customers supplied. In order to make sure that we do not fall behind in the warehouse, we took the decision to temporarily pause the ability for new customers to set up a new account. We have also applied quantity limits on some product to stop resellers and traders from swiping all the stock.
- Nitrile gloves stocks are limited and shortages are forecast, prices are embarrassingly high
- Latex and Vinyl gloves, factory prices still rising but stock is arriving regularly
- Aprons, no problems envisaged
- Mask prices falling dramatically, we are working seriously hard to have the right quality, price and volumes available for you
- Alcohol gel and infection control/cleaning chemicals , no shortages envisaged now that production has geared up
Planning For Winter
The great guessing game has begun in earnest. “Will there be a second wave ?” will there be shortages again ? Do I need to stock up ?
There are few guarantees in life (except death and taxes) but we are confident that we are as well setup as we can be for most of what COVID and Brexit can throw at us. Over the last few months, we have doubled the value of our stock holding and added a little more for good luck.
Our aim remains the same, to look after our regular customers and do whatever we can to keep you supplied at the best possible prices.
Stock reserve is a brand new service that we have developed and tested during act I of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now ready to be rolled out more widely to our customers who would like to have stock held “With your name on it”. Guaranteed to be yours, financed, stored and rotated. Ready for you when everyone else is running out. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. The cost is 3% per month of the stock value held in reserve with a minimum of £10,000 stock held in the reserve.
Also coming soon is an entirely unique and massively researched environmental dashboard for our caring customers. It will answer key questions….
- How much plastic do you purchase ?
- What is your Ecoindex score ?
- What can you do to reduce your impact on the environment ?
Keep an eye out for a special invitation to join us on an Environmental journey that will help to save the planet. We are committed to helping you to making small, simple changes that will have a big impact.
- Nitrile gloves – Stocks are limited and shortages are forecast
- Latex and Vinyl gloves – Factory prices still rising but stock is still arriving regularly
- Aprons – no problems envisaged
- Masks – Prices falling dramatically, we are working seriously hard to have the right quality, price and volumes available for you.
- Alcohol gel and infection control/cleaning chemicals – No shortages envisaged now that production has geared up.
Situation and outlook for PPE supplies
Prices continue to rise as supply is not sufficient for worldwide demand and factories can take over a year to build. There is no end in sight for the relentless price rises. Every container that is due to arrive is costing more than the previous one. Most UK distributors have no or little stocks available for "free" sale.