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Christmas prices to soar as John Lewis charters ships to brace for supply chain glut

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The company’s chair Sharon White told BBC News how the company is throwing all its got at the issue of supply chain shortages as it spends millions on extra container space. But despite the positive words from the Chair, one toy supplier stressed how containers have rocketed from $900 for a 20ft container to “upwards of $8,800” as prices are set to be whacked on the British consumer this Christmas.

Ms White said: “The partnership has seen the same sorts of supply chain issues that are common now across retail.

“We’re acting hard and we’re acting fast to make sure we can still deliver a fantastic sparkly Christmas to our customers.”

She also added how the company has raised wages for HGV drivers to cover the current driver shortage, which she insisted was not an issue for John Lewis.

But in an eye-opening moment, she said: “We are chartering additional space in ships so that your Christmas baubles and Christmas trees and all those toys arrive in the UK on time.”

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Ms White was however insistent that the company is “banking on everyone having a fantastic Christmas this year” and stressed there are no supply issues. 

The John Lewis chair added: “We have new additional warehouse space, we are hiring thousands of seasonal workers from Waitrose delivery to some of our workers and partners in-store.

“We are ensuring that the product gets to the UK in the first place and that is through ensuring that we have got additional space in freight containers.

“Our customers hopefully won’t see anything.

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He said: “There will have to be some price increasing reluctantly but we are going to do our best to mitigate that as much as possible.”

His comments come as the issue has been compounded by additional container shortages while it is also tough getting a space on the ships that carry containers from China.

There is also a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers in the UK, out of a pre-pandemic total of about 600,000, a Road Haulage Association survey of its members’ estimates, which sets back the supply chain further in the UK.

John Lewis has 34 department stores and 331 Waitrose supermarket stores alongside its online operation.

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