'"Just get me my fucking ponchos." So went the cry of a fashion company chief executive recently, as he realised that the products which usually arrived on time and without hitches from China were held up somewhere between the factory and his warehouse in the UK.'
And who can blame him for being irate? Over the past quarter decade, retailers and others have become used to goods flowing smoothly across the world, arriving ever-quicker and at ever-lower cost.
But a supply chain is a bit like household plumbing. When everything is working well, nobody gives it a thought. When there’s a blockage, the situation becomes very dire very quickly, and everyone realises that they don’t have a clue how the system works. At the moment, blockages are occurring everywhere.'