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Harrods delays summer discount sale due to global supply chain issues

Harrods has delayed its summer discount sale by two to three weeks because of global supply chain hold-ups exacerbated by post-Brexit staff shortages, it has announced.

“Our supply chain is running two to three weeks behind where it should be,” Michael Ward, the managing director of the upmarket Knightsbridge department store, told Bloomberg TV at the Qatar Economic Forum. “A good example of that is, we’ve just delayed the summer sale for two weeks because I need another 10% of new-season stock to allow me to function into the new year.”

The situation has been exacerbated by Brexit, said Ward: “It’s almost impossible to find the right staff. We’ve lost significant amounts of people as a result of Brexit. And it’s not the skilled or qualified, it’s the people we need to do jobs that unfortunately the British will not do.”

Harrods is not alone in suffering from supply chain disruption. JD Group, the owner of JD Sports, Blacks and Millets, said on Wednesday that its sales performance had been held back by shortages of in-demand footwear such as Air Max trainers.

Cut-price fashion chain Primark also said this week that it was closely watching events in China, where lockdowns were affecting some factories and ports, threatening potential disruption to deliveries of stock.

Clothing groups have been hit by problems with shipping and factory shutdowns in China and elsewhere in Asia as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Two years into the crisis, China is alone among major countries enforcing an uncompromising “zero Covid” policy that aims to eradicate all outbreaks as soon as they occur at almost any cost. That has led to factory and port shutdowns in some regions. Economic activity in China recovered in May from a dismal April as curbs in major manufacturing hubs were gradually relaxed, but movement controls continued to restrain production.

Factory activity was at a three-month high in May, but still lower than a year earlier.

Last month the British Chamber of Commerce in China warned that Covid restrictions and uncertainty about the future were having a negative impact on British companies in China. A survey of more than 600 members found that 74% were “seriously impacted” by zero-Covid policies, with almost 50% delaying planning investments.

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