Red Sea disruption prompts call for advanced planning

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is urging housebuilders and construction professionals to secure future supply of building materials by ordering in advance.

Rebel attacks in the Red Sea have disrupted shipping from India and China, resulting in longer sea journeys and higher costs for products ranging from decorative sandstone to plywood and ironmongery.

BMF CEO John Newcomb is co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council’s Materials Supply Chain Group, which issued its latest statement this week.

Mr Newcomb said: “The Group is monitoring the availability and cost of supplies from the Indian subcontinent and Asia such as decorative sandstone, plywood, sheet materials and ironmongery.

“With an additional 10 to 15 days at sea needed to navigate around Africa rather than take the usual route through the Suez Canal, the main concern here relates to price increases stemming from increased shipping and container costs for these products.”

The BMF represents 950 merchant and supplier companies across the UK and Ireland with combined sales of more than £44.9bn.

BMF member company H&B Buying Group is a buying group with a network of more than 130 independent builders’ merchants.

Paul Pennick, Procurement Director at H&B Buying Group, said: “Of the total number of global container shipments, 30% would normally take the route via the Red Sea and Suez Canal.

“If a vessel takes an alternative route, it adds two or three weeks on lead time and adds approximately $1.5 million in fuel costs alone.

“The situation is very fluid, so we are keeping a close watch on the situation.”