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Felixstowe strike could disrupt retail supply chain until Christmas


Maersk Felixstowe port
Strike at Felixstowe port threatens supply chain until Christmas
// Walk-out at Britain’s Felixstowe port could hit availability and prices at supermarkets
// Experts are warning could go way beyond eight day action and last until Christmas

Supermarkets are braced for yet more supply chain chaos following the start of an eight-day strike at the Port of Felixstowe.

The port is Britain’s biggest gateway to global trade and the strike could cause wide-ranging supply disruption and hit imports and exports right through to Christmas according to some experts.

There are growing concerns that consumers could face fresh shortages of some goods and even higher prices, on top of the soaring inflation that is already hitting hard-pressed consumers.

The walkout by 1,900 dockworkers at the Suffolk port could have the biggest single impact amid the wave of strikes following more than 200,000 rail and London Underground workers, bus drivers, Royal Mail delivery staff, Post Office and BT workers, as well as refuse collectors have or are staging industrial action.

The repercussions of the strike at the port is estimated to cost up to £700 million in lost trade and Maersk, the world’s largest shipping line, has started cancelling calls into the port and is diverting traffic to European ports including Antwerp, Le Havre and London Gateway on the Thames.

READ MORE: ‘Worldwide shipping problems will continue for years’, warns Asda and Sainsbury’s supply chain provider

“We expect the strike action to have a significant impact to the vessel line-up and are working along with vessel partners to mitigate risk and disruption as much as possible,” Maersk said.

An analysis of Felixstowe’s August traffic by trade consultancy Russell found that clothing and electronics components are likely to be among the goods hit most severely. 

Russell managing director, Suki Basi, said: “The large exposure of British companies from the disruption is a real-time example of ‘connected trading risk exposure’. The disruption creates ripple effects across the economy, from supply chain disruption for organisations to potential higher prices for consumers.

“Ports across the globe are facing congestion, due to a backlog caused by the pandemic. These strikes could increase the backlog.”

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