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In a global Market we need understanding, innovation and flexibility

John Schofield, Marketing and Sales Director at JT discusses the impact of raw materials, availability and price in association with the Bathroom Manufacturers Association

When the world started to change in Q3 and Q4 of 2020 we at JT, as a proud British manufacturer, thought we were sitting pretty when all the imported products started to suffer with the significant cost increases due to shipping and container costs. However……as the year progressed raw material costs began to go the same way as a result of lack of availability due to the pressurised global supply chains and as such we were (please excuse this….) in the same boat!

Certain elements within raw materials, such as styrene which is incorporated within the shower tray resin and skins, became increasingly scarce due to a number of external factors. Due to the worst winter in a generation, significant capacity was lost from the Southern states of America production facilities, with production and shipping affected. In addition to this, one of Europe’s major factories experienced a fire, halting production processes. Given these factors, and in conjunction with a surge in global demand, this resulted in the perfect storm and as such prices were only going one way.

It’s difficult to anticipate the how and when an equilibrium in price and availability will be restored, during this period of turmoil (all be it from positive drivers we should say) in the global economy. Core pillars of our economy have inflated which puts pressure on supply chains and factories where capacities have been reduced, particularly given that the surge has come so quickly and sharply.

Within the construction products industry, we’ve been fortunate at JT to be able to adapt rapidly, but that in itself has caused problems including extended lead times which are now settling down.

Working together

Collectively as a sector, we can work together to address and drive awareness of these issues among our customers. Today, customers are very well educated about global issues which makes them extremely understanding of the current circumstance and volatility of the market. Throughout the process it’s been crucial for our business to be transparent with our customers and distribute details of issues directly impacting us, this way customers understand the challenges, how it impacts JT, and therefore how it will impact them as customers.

The good news due to our British manufacturing capacity and decades of experience is that we have been able to meet demand, despite the discussed global supply issues.  Let’s hope the next 12 months is a little less turbulent for all of us.  Whatever the ‘economic weather’ is, if we all work together, we will survive and prosper.

You can watch the full debate here.

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