Shoe Zone has joined the list of retailers warning of shipping headaches, with the chain having seen “a minimum of a five-fold increase” in container prices over the last year.
The AIM-listed footwear chain’s chief executive Anthony Smith also cautioned: “This will continue to impact us for at least a further six months until the issues being experienced in the whole supply chain return to more sensible levels.”
The Covid-19 crisis has led to backlogs and delays for a number of companies importing goods, plus there has been heightened demand for space on ships as online orders soared for a number of retailers.
Shoe Zone trades in Jameson Street, in the city centre, as well as in Holderness Road, Kingswood and North Point Shopping Centre- however their futures are now in doubt after the firm’s boss hit out at the cost of current business rates.
Anthony Smith says 100 of its UK shops will close unless rates change.
Mr Smith was speaking on the BBC’s Wake Up to Money programme on Monday, saying that business rates have risen by more than double in the last ten years.
“There is a lot of talk about the regeneration and repurposing of town centres, which we are all up for. But whatever goes into those shops, the rateable value is still simply too high,” Mr Smith said.
“It’s a simple maths question. Every time a lease comes up, we’ll look at the mathematics of it. If we are not making any money out of it… the shop will unfortunately close.”
Shoe Zone’s update came in the same week the Financial Times reported that container shipping company Maersk had been diverting some big vessels away from the UK to other European ports from which smaller ships will be used for deliveries here.
In the year to October 2 Shoe Zone, whose finance director is called Terry Boot, saw revenue decline to £119.1 million from £122.6 million.
It was hit by temporary store closures during lockdowns, but did record a jump in online growth.
Smith said: “These are a solid set of preliminary results but there is still uncertainty ahead of us in the next 12 months, not only with the continuing impact of Covid, but also the challenges we face with the global supply chain and inflationary pressures.”