Covid 19 is continuing to cause disruption to the memorial supply process. Whereas we would once have expected to have an imported memorial installed within three to four months of your initial enquiry, a more realistic timescale is now four to six months.
There are currently delays with all aspects of the supply chain, especially in respect of shipping. Across the whole of Asia containers are in short supply, meaning that shipping lines are no longer issuing empty ones. This is because many have been stuck in the Americas and Europe due to lockdowns and not been able to get transported back to where they were needed.
The consequences of this are that factories cannot free up space by loading containers at the site. This has slowed down their ability to produce memorials due to lack of space and they have had to find other ways of transporting them to port or wait until a lorry with a container is ready to collect.
These supply issues have meant that India, where many of our black and red granite memorials are sourced from, is currently producing at about 50% capacity. Our supplier in China is in a slightly better position, although they rely on raw materials from India so there may soon be a knock on effect there.
Even at the port, there is no guarantee containers will be loaded onto ships. Capacity has been reduced by the shipping lines, but prices increased and there are new surcharges being imposed to supposedly guarantee loading. On average the cost of shipments have doubled, but in some cases they have quadrupled.
The chaos meant that due to port congestion one container with some of our orders was on the dockside at Colombo for three weeks before it was loaded onto a ship. To cap it all, the Suez Canal was blocked for six days in March this year when the Ever Given got stuck, slowing down a process that was already taking too long. The situation is not expected to normalize until the spring of 2022.
It has been inevitable that at some stage these increased charges have to be passed on to the customer. At Alberti, Lupton & Co we are doing all we can to limit price increases but do have to cover these extra shopping costs. It is also a sad fact that we are unable to now guarantee that all orders placed in August will be installed by Christmas.
Despite these challenges to the supply chain we do always have a large selection of very special granite headstones and gravestones in stock ready for immediate engraving. This means you can have the perfect memorial for your loved one promptly and effortlessly. We have a selection of memorials in production that will soon be with us and available for engraving
We will continue to do all we can to minimise disruption to our customers. We will be open and up front about any memorials ordered that we know may well be delayed by this supply process. Alberti Lupton & Co have been in operation for over 110 years and this is one of the biggest challenges we have faced. It is one however that we are determined to see through and continue our proud reputation as Greater Manchester’s oldest family run monumental mason, having served the people of this area for five generations.