Major retailers are scrambling to work out contingency plans to get their merchandise to stores as the bankruptcy of the Hanjin shipping line has thrown the retail supply chains around the world into confusion.
Hanjin, the world’s seventh-largest container shipper, filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday and stopped accepting cargo. With its assets frozen, ships from China to Canada were refused permission to load or unload containers because there were no guarantees that tugboat pilots or stevedores would be paid. It’s also been a factor in shipping rates rising and could hurt trucking firms with contracts to pick up goods.
While some retailers’ holiday merchandise has probably been affected, experts say what’s most important is that the issue be resolved before the critical shipping month of October.
Degree of uncertainty
“Retailers always have robust contingency plans, but this degree of uncertainty is making it challenging to put those plans in place,” said Jessica Dankert, senior director of retail operations for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a trade alliance with members including Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target.
Plano-based J.C. Penney said Hanjin is one of several ocean freight carriers it uses and when it learned there might be a problem it began to divert and reroute its containers. It said it uses “a variety of transportation methods and ports” and does not expect a significant effect on the flow of merchandise.
Target Corp. said it is watching the situation closely, and Wal-Mart said it is waiting for details about Hanjin’s bankruptcy proceedings and the implications to its merchandise before it can assess the effect.
As of Friday, 27 ships had been refused entry to ports or terminals, said Hanjin spokesman Park Min. The company said one ship in Singapore had been seized by the ship’s owner.
Read more at Merchants scramble as shipper goes bankrupt
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