UK schoolwear suppliers have issued a joint statement highlighting the potential impact of Covid-19 and global shipping disruptions on the delivery of uniform for ‘Back to School 2021’.

In a joint letter, Banner, David Luke, Falcon, Rowlinson Knitwear, Trutex and William Turner summarise the causes of current global shipping disruptions, encouraging their customers to share the information with schools if they’re directly impacted by delays to uniform orders.

The schoolwear suppliers outline how the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are continuing to cause major shipping disruptions around the world. This included the ongoing impact of lockdowns, staff shortages and shipping containers ending up in the wrong locations, as well as an increase in demand on goods being shipped from Asia to the US and Western Europe.

The joint letter also highlights the recent closure of the Suez Canal due to a blockage caused by the container ship MV Ever Given, and its likely repercussions on orders due to leave in the coming weeks and months.

It further explains how the incident impacted on all major container carriers, temporarily disabling one of the most important arteries in global trade and the main artery into Europe: “The problem is not only confined to the backlog of vessels queueing to transit through the Suez, but also the knock-on effects at the ports and thereafter a further shortage of empty containers and lack of vessel availability – the result of this disruption is that major shipping lines are all fighting for the same limited resources and capacity.

“Rest assured our factories and freight forwarders are working as hard as they can to secure availability, and we have done everything we can to ensure elements within our control are in place to guarantee a smooth transition once containers and vessels become available.”

In their joint letter, the schoolwear suppliers added that although each of their companies are “doing its best to control the parts of the chain that we can, the inevitable outcome is that some uniform deliveries may not meet the required delivery date”.

It continued: “We would rather not be communicating this type of message to you as you start to emerge from lockdown and look forward to getting back to normality. However, we feel that to have a good awareness of these issues now, in advance of the season, is in all of our best interests and will help in managing the situations you may face with schools and parents.

“We remain optimistic at this time that as a market, we can deliver a strong Back to School. However, guaranteeing dates for events and appointments is likely to prove more difficult than normal, and we would strongly advise to work closely with each of your suppliers to help you make the most appropriate arrangements with your schools.

“When doing so, please do bear in mind the difficulty that suppliers will have in quoting firm delivery dates, given the shipping challenges we are facing.

“Thank you for your understanding and support, and we wish you all the best as you prepare for the coming season.”

Read the joint supplier letter in full at