Chinese go-slow disrupts imports

By Grant Bradley

New Zealand importers including The Warehouse face supply disruption out of China as authorities there enforce rolling factory shutdowns to save power.

Manufacturing for New Zealand companies in Vietnam has also been hit, with one importer predicting worse problems and the prospect of rising prices next year.

The Warehouse, one of the country's biggest retailers, says supplies of clothes and manchester have been hit.

"What they're forcing some factories to do is close down some days of the week which is creating disruption to orders from our perspective," its managing director Ian Morrice said.

"It's not serious in that it doesn't affect a huge proportion of our business but it does affect seasonal categories. You can't afford to have seasonal product coming in late."

Homeware and furniture importer Acland Holdings, which supplies 800 retailers here and the same number in Australia, said two of its manufacturers were operating at half capacity.

"This year we've had more problems with product and we've been in business for 21 years," said owner Margot Acland.

One manufacturer used to make iron outdoor furniture but was ordered to stop by authorities. "Now he makes wooden furniture," she said.

"I wouldn't say this was crippling [but] a lot of our product has been late, with some things months late."

Figures released by Beijing for October show electricity generation growth was at its lowest for more than a year. The slowdown has been attributed to a drive to meet energy efficiency targets before the end of the year in a country heavily reliant on polluting coal-fired power stations.

Imports from China are running at about $6.4 billion a year.

Adrienne Mamo, the director of May Time, another homewares and furniture importer, said supplies had also been crimped from Vietnam, where much of the production formerly in China had been moved.

"We have experienced delays of up to five or six weeks. It has a flow-on effect because we supply retail," she said..

Prices were not being affected - yet. "I think it probably will come. The dollar has been helping us a lot there but we're expecting price increases significantly there."

- NZ Herald

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