Date: Friday, September 3, 2021
The king of the flat-packed box has bought its own containers and become the latest major retailer to reveal it is chartering in boxships amid today’s uniquely tight, pricey ocean shipping space.
Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer, has joined the likes of Walmart and Home Depot in taking some of its ocean supply chain needs into its own hands, revealing to American and Swedish news outlets this week that the decision to buy boxes and charter ships came in the wake of the growing port congestion around the world and the lengthy fallout the company suffered from the Ever Given Suez Canal blockage earlier in the year.
“Congestion in ports combined with historically high demand has created an imbalance in the entire world market for maritime transport,” Ikea’s product deliveries director Mikael Redin told Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet. “On top of that must be added a general shortage of certain raw materials. All in all, this has unfortunately led to restrictions in our range today.”
Other retailers to have gone down a similar route during the trickiest period in the 65-year of containerisation include Dollar Tree, an American discount chain, and clothing retailer, American Eagle.
“These giant shippers will have a good look at terminal handling charges and other hidden charges. It could be a game changer in their relationship with carriers, terminals and forwarders,” commented Russ Green from RTG Communications, a long-term watcher of global supply chains.
With available containers and space on boxships increasingly scarce and sensationally expensive, a number of dry bulk shipowners have in recent weeks entered the fray, moving boxes on deck.