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Island’s supply line with UK is ‘fragile’

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THE loss of the Huelin Dispatch cargo ship has increased the fragility of the Island’s supply chain with the UK, a former Chamber of Commerce president has said.

David Warr

David Warr, who owns Cooper and Co coffee merchants, has warned that the government must keep a close eye on the situation to ensure that freight prices do not rise unreasonably in the future.

Last week, Channel Island Lines’ chartered load-on-load-off container ship, Huelin Dispatch, left the Harbour for the final time.

The company now ships its goods on Condor’s two roll-on-roll-off vessels – the Goodwill and Clipper – using trailers.

Mr Warr said that the situation has left his business more vulnerable, as they import almost all of their items from the UK.

‘I understand that the Huelin Dispatch did not come in every single day and that in this day and age, for a lot of people, that is not good enough,’ he said.

‘When companies offer next-day delivery, you expect that service to be available in Jersey too.

‘I also understand that the viability of running that route became unviable but for me – from a strategic point of view – getting rid of that vessel presents a lot of risk and gives a lot of power to Condor.’

He added: ‘It is such a big deal strategically. I would like someone from government to come out and say they are aware of the situation and that there is a continuing price structure.

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‘It is something that the government should look at in a very serious way. I am a full advocate of a free market but this just makes our supply chain with the UK even more fragile.’

Mr Warr added that until the recent changes with Channel Island Lines took place, he split many of his shipments between the two operators to minimise the risk of products not arriving in the Island.

Channel Seaways still operate a smaller twice-weekly container service to Jersey but Mr Warr said he still thought the Island was at a higher risk than before.

Condor Ferries said the changes presented an opportunity to grow services to the Channel Islands.

A spokesman said: ‘Our schedule is driven by the needs of the supply chain and retailers, which demands a twice-daily year-round operation.

‘This ‘‘just in time’’ service has become more critical in recent years following the closure of all on-island warehouses so any consolidation of roll-on/roll-off locally is natural as it is both efficient and cost-effective,’ he added.

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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