TACKLE companies have revealed that the supply chain is slowly heading back to normal, and that shelf shortages should soon become a thing of the past.
With many venues full to bursting amid the sport’s lockdown resurgence, demand for fishing kit has been at an all-time high in recent months. And although the pandemic continues to impact international freight routes and the manufacturing sector, there is definite light at the end of the tunnel as order backlogs begin to be cleared and lead-in times for products are slashed.
Last month we spoke to three people at the heart of the industry to learn about the problems that have been encountered, and how things are improving…
Darran Goulder, Director at Fortis, premium fishing sunglasses and clothing brand
“Angling’s unexpected boost from the pandemic caught a lot of people by surprise. When the first lockdown came, large retailers cancelled their orders, believing trade would plummet, so when angling was back on the agenda and online retailers were able to trade, there simply wasn’t enough stock to go around.
“Many factories in the Far East were closed, so when they reopened there was a huge backlog of orders, which obviously created longer lead times for production. You then had to get the products over here. There was a massive shortage of containers in Asia, because they were arriving here, but not being filled back up with stock to be sent back out again. You can’t just send a 40ft container back around the world with nothing in it – it costs a fortune!
“So, charges for haulage went through the roof. A container which once cost $1,000 to be delivered was now costing upwards of $15,000! It was crazy. Luckily, we had enough sunglasses in stock to last us all summer, but with seasonal items like fleeces and boots we made the decision to fly them over instead. That cost an insane amount and often absorbed all the profit, but we wanted to support our retailers.
“Some of our kit is made in the UK, and that was obviously hit hard too by the pandemic, but brands are in a much better position now to deal with demand.
“Provided no more vessels decide to run aground in the Suez Canal, we should be back to normal just in time for summer!”
Stephen McCaveny, Marketing Manager at Daiwa UK
“When the first lockdown hit there was so much uncertainty around the market that we had to seriously adjust our outlook. We’re fortunate in that we own factories both in the UK and overseas, but we were still asking ourselves: ‘How is there going to be enough demand for products to keep these factories going?’
“Thankfully things are getting better, and the outlook is now far more positive, but the whole manufacturing chain is still peppered with holes, and all the cogs of synchronicity required to make a product and get it to the shops remain a little out of kilter.
“We’ve taken on extra staff at the factories, the last of the bigger items of kit that were ordered a while back are now arriving too, and the bottlenecks at UK ports are beginning to clear up. Although lead-in times for products aren’t back to where we’d like them to be, they’re certainly getting far more reliable.
“It’s the high-end items such as poles and seatboxes that have been in greatest demand because people have more disposable income this year and are treating themselves, so much so that all of our 2021 range is already sold out. We’re now trying hard to replace that stock so customers don’t have to endure more delays.
“Angling is in a very good place, but there’s still a slightly bumpy ride ahead until we get back to normal.”
Cameron Hughes, top match angler who helps run Nathan’s of Derby
“The demand for tackle has been crazy over the past 12 months. When fishing’s lockdown was lifted it seemed as if every other customer was a new angler, or someone getting back into the sport who needed to update their kit!
“We’re lucky because we took a gamble and invested heavily in stock when the opportunity arose last year. For example, we bought 180 poles in one go from Daiwa, and this sort of approach has stood us in good stead. However, there are still problems.
“It’s mainly the big items that are slow to come through. For example, we sell tons of MAP and Matrix barrows and trolleys, and order them by the hundred, but these are proving hard to get in. And we have more kit on back-order with Fox than we sold across our three stores in 2019! We’ve run out of some stuff, but thanks to the risks we took with the big orders, our customers are now able to get most of the bits what they want.
“The supply chain is far from being back to normal, but by the end of the summer any remaining gaps on shelves should be getting filled. The demand is showing no signs of slowing, which is great for the industry as a whole.”