Has the pandemic created any opportunities for Don-Bur?
Covid has undoubtedly shifted consumerism to online sources which has driven a sudden and significant demand for parcel-related trailers. Primarily, due to relatively low load density, parcel carriage is very suited to high volume double decks and this is an area Don-Bur has dominated for some time. Equally, the low availability of suitable trailers in the UK trailer pool has caused a spike in demand for rental equipment which needs back-filling with new trailers. Since the lifting of the first lockdown in the summer of 2020, we have seen an unprecedented increase in our order book and we are investing to increase capacity.
How big was the demise of Cartwright for the UK semi-trailer market?
Cartwrights was a large, direct competitor. As lead times generally across the market were already lengthy in Q4 2020 (when Cartwright folded), the sudden, and significant loss of manufacturing capacity in the industry has exacerbated the lead time issue to the point where most OEMs are now quoting in excess of 12 months from time of order to point of delivery. It has presented opportunities for all OEMs to invest in increased capacity to pick up the slack.
What have been the biggest challenges for Don-Bur in the UK during the pandemic?
The first 2020 lockdown forced us to close and, although we had a reasonably healthy order book to return to at some point, we didn’t see the incoming orders we would normally expect at that time. As a result, there were concerns about what we would be returning to when the lockdown lifted. As it happens, we had no reason to worry. As the first lockdown lifted, we experienced a huge increase in activity which expanded our order book and encouraged us to focus on manufacturing. Particularly in 2021, we have seen significant availability issues and huge price increases in steel, aluminium, resins, polymers, wood and CPU chips – among others. Staffing levels too have been difficult to manage. Whilst confirmed cases of Covid have been mercifully low, the Test & Trace program has, on occasion, devastated certain departments which then need a re-allocation and re-training of available labour. The result is a compact and lengthy manufacturing program with an unpredictable supply of components and a labour force which waxes and wanes in line with Covid spikes.
Has Brexit been a factor?
Brexit has been a contributing factor although most of the supply chain issues appear to be predominantly Covid-related. There is no doubt that certain components have been delayed due to border challenges but, to a degree, this can be planned for. Equally, the Brexit effect on pricing is thought to be present but not as significant as the effect of the general shortage of certain components due to Covid disruptions.
What is the current situation with regards to longer semi-trailers?
Due to the relatively recent trade press story about the DfT making LSTs permanently legal in the UK, we did see a surge of interest from a number of parties although many of those customers were existing LST users. As it turns out, the DfT did not intend to rubber stamp general LST use and stated that they would continue to let the trial runs their course. Understandably, the spike in interest died down to typical levels of interest.
Richard Owens, Group Marketing Manager, Don-Bur
The post 5-minutes with Richard Owens, Group Marketing Manager, Don-Bur appeared first on SMMT.