The UK’s biggest school uniform supplier declared that one factory had “about a third” of their workforce off because they’re isolating.
The UK’s largest school uniform provider, Stevensons has informed their customers that they are also “experiencing some significant delays to the delivery of certain sportswear products from one of our key European supply partners”.
“As with the rest of the world, the factory has had to manage ongoing Covid related disruption such as isolating staff, and more recent outbreaks of the Delta variant have led to severe supply shortages coming in to our distribution centre in July and August.
“Very regrettably, this means that our stock levels of sportswear are much lower than they should be at this time of year, and if you have ordered with us then certain elements of your sportswear order may not be fulfilled in time for the start of term, which we apologise for.”
Stevensons informed parents that it had contacted schools “to let them know of these delays that are outside of your control, and so please rest assured that your child will be in no way penalised”.
Mark Stevenson, the joint chief executive of the firm and co-chair of the Schoolwear Association, declared that the industry had been hit by a container ship shortage, as well as “Covid-related ‘pinggate’ isolations” causing massive delays in the delivery of the orders.
He said one factory had “about a third of their workforce off because they’re isolating” and added: “If you’ve suddenly lost a third of your workforce, you’re going to lose a third of your output, it’s just quite simple maths really.”
He also declared that some courier companies were unable to recruit enough drivers, “so the level of delivery service unfortunately has been compromised”. “Getting products from suppliers to customers is just taking that extra day or two longer because they might have less people in the warehouse picking, packing and getting stuff out. There’s just this sort of treacle within every industry out there which is just slowing things down.”
Elsewhere, food shortages look set to hit schools this term, with wholesalers urging schools to “stock up”.
One industry source told The Grocer they had written to education customers ahead of the school term warning of the likely difficulties.
“Schools will have to accept there will be shortages,” they said. “We are ordering as far in advance as 15 days and are then told by the supplier the day before delivery is due that a trucker will be nine pallets short. We then have another 15-day lead time on a re-order.”
The Local Authority Caterers Association – which represents caterers – told i: “LACA’s members and operators have a priority to ensure that food is available for schools so that children can be fed. Our members will have in place continuity measures to ensure minimal disruption to food supply as we embark on the new school term. LACA will be monitoring the impact of the HGV driver shortage as schools return over the coming weeks.”
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