The bed and mattress industries, along with others are under extreme pressure due to the shortage of raw materials. We look at some of the reasons that your order lead time is taking longer than usual.

One of the leading suppliers of springs, who now operate out of 18 countries worldwide, reveal some of the hidden problems we are facing with extended lead-times in our industry. They supply many of the springs for UK’s mattress and bed industry. At the forefront of sleep technology, they invented the first springs to be used in beds and mattresses way back in 1885.

We know there is a worldwide shortage of steel, and some of the reasons will be obvious to all. However, additional pressure is placed on the supply chain by port delays of impending deliveries into the UK.

Delayed OrdersUnfortunately, the UK’s primary supplier of wire to UK pocket spring manufacturers went into Administration in August, forcing pocket spring manufacturers to find new international suppliers.

The shortage of bed springs we are currently experiencing is due to significant failures in deliveries of the raw materials. This is predominantly due to sea freight delays.

‘The lead time is currently longer than normal for sea freight imports due to factors relating to the impact of COVID19. At the beginning of Covid19, trade reduced as countries around the world went into lockdown. The ports, shipping depots and hauliers made adjustments to mitigate the downturn in volumes. These included furloughing staff which has been across all aspects of the freight industry: port workers, crane drivers, hauliers and rail services.

Most countries are now increasing trade once more and the impact in demand is massive. Considering 2-3 weeks ago strong winds shut ports and depots in the UK, the shipping companies have had to rework or re-plan all the deliveries affected, which increased shipping lead times.

Felixstowe port is congested as productivity is down due to staff shortages. As a result cranes which normally move containers are at reduced capacity, meaning vessels are in port for longer, and as a result there are no berth spaces and vessels are being diverted to other UK ports. Resources (trucks) are then in the wrong place. These factors along with the restricted VBS vehicle booking system which has to be used to book a time slot to enter the port is adding to longer than usual lead times.’

In addition to the problems with spring supply, our industry has a shortage of spun bond fabric that covers the pocket springs. The UK’s largest manufacture of spun-bond fabric has had 70% of their production capacity purchased by the government so it can redirect fabric to the production of PPE to rebuild winter stocks for the NHS and Care sectors, again forcing pocket spring manufacturers to find new suppliers.

We know that all our suppliers are working with each of their suppliers to determine whether there are any viable alternatives. Sadly, to date they have been unsuccessful. They have assured us that they will continue to keep us advised when further information is available.

The lead times we are currently quoting are as accurate as we can be, but there may be some delays which are beyond our and our suppliers’ direct control. Where there are further delays, we will update you as the situation progresses.

We would like to thank all our customers for their patience during these extremely difficult times and ensure you that we are doing all we can.

Update 20 November 2020

With the situation relating to the global shipping industry worsening on an almost daily basis, one senior professional within the industry has said “In all my career I have never witnessed conditions like this. The significant increase in costs together with the ongoing disruption to supply your chains is unprecedented…..”. The port of Felixstowe seems to be in crisis which is having a knock-on effect on other major European ports. The report states “…. in an operational note posted on its (Felixstowe port owners) website, the company said delays at Felixstowe would continue "at least into December and possibly through into the New Year" - potentially causing havoc for firms still waiting on pre-Christmas stock.” Importers are trying to divert containers to other ports such as Southampton and Liverpool to try and avoid Felixstowe, the UKs largest ‘container’ port, but the problems on the East coast are rippling out and leading to congestion across the UK and Rotterdam. Read the full BBC report here:

Update 1 February 2021

Sadly we are still experiencing delays, with several of our UK manufacturers still struggling to get the required springs and mattress covers. In some cases deliveries are 50% of what has been ordered. That said we have seen a significant improvement in delivery lead times from some of our suppliers. We are now able to order Relyon mattresses, Dunlopillo mattresses and Sealy mattresses, with much improved lead times, getting back to somewhere near normal. Unfortunately the same can't be said to the irregular shipments of our imported bed frames. Containers of bed frames are stuck on the water, stuck in port or delayed at customs, meaning we are experiencing delays on some out of stock items.

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