£1.5 billion of imports could be impacted on by Felixstowe port delays

An overhead shot of Felixstowe Port

$2 billion of trade imports could be at risk - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Delays at the Port of Felixstowe could impact on up to £1.5 billion of trade imports in the run-up to Christmas if the delays continue, a risk modelling company has said.  

The Russell Group said that $2 billion, just under £1.5 billion, of items could be affected. 

The news comes just hours after major shipping container company, Maersk, announced that it would be diverting ships away from the port because of congestion concerns.  

The Russell Group said that clothing was likely to be the largest commodity impacted by the delays.  

Deeper, more granular analysis by Russell shows that many companies with a significant presence on the UK high street would be affected with Asda ($63 million) and Tesco ($46 million) most exposed to the disruption as they import clothing items. John Lewis ($44 million), Chanel ($41 million) and M&S ($41 million) make up the rest of the top five companies exposed to clothing delays. 

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The modelling was based on ten weeks of trade from October 12 to December 25 (modelled on 2020 figures).
Felixstowe is one of the UK’s largest ports with an annual flow of trade of more than $9.6 billion, roughly £7 billion, according to Russell analysis. 

Suki Basi, CEO of Russell Group said: “The delays at Felixstowe in coping with the pent-up demand should not be a surprise to experienced observers of global trade events, as this is an issue that is affecting major ports from Long Beach to Yantian across the world. 

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"As Russell has argued in the past, trade is becoming more and more concentrated, as shown by previous analysis of $7.5 trillion of global trade flows through 50 key ports. So, when there is a blockage at any major port, there is disruption across the value-chain for consumers and businesses alike. 

“Assessing the impacts of disruption or blockage events like Felixstowe on trade is absolutely essential. This can be done by analysing trade flows at country, route, operator, ship, commodity and company levels.  

“This approach allows underwriters and corporates to assess their exposures on a timely, granular basis, enabling business portfolios to remain viable in these closely interconnected, fast changing times.” 

Responding to concerns about the congestion a spokesman for the port said: “In common with other major ports in the UK and beyond, the Port of Felixstowe is experiencing impacts of the global supply chain crisis.

“The vast majority of import containers are cleared for collection within minutes of arriving and there are over 1,000 unused haulier bookings most days.

“The situation is improving and there is more spare space for import containers this week than at any time since the beginning of July when supply chain impacts first started to bite.

“Empty container levels remain high as import containers are returned and we are asking shipping lines to remove them as quickly as possible.”

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