Willow Direct - Wholesale Wicker Baskets and Basketware for Trade

2021: The Challenges

We learned a lot of valuable lessons in 2020 and we feel we’re now far better prepared for the unexpected. However, with the coming months looking even more challenging, we’ve had to make some big changes in the way we operate. Here’s a brief report on what's happening here at Willow Direct...

MAINTAINING THE HIGHEST STANDARDS

Willow Direct are able to supply the best basketware because we work exclusively with skilled craftspeople who we want to be as happy and proud to work with us as we are to work with them. We’re therefore fully committed to working closely with our supply partners to ensure that general standards of living and working exceed international regulations.

IMPORTING MORE STOCK THAN EVER BEFORE

Throughout 2020, the global pandemic obviously had a massive impact on international travel and shipping, the effects of which are still being felt today. The price to import a single container has at times reached levels 10-times higher than it would have cost in 2020, however through careful planning and improved operations, we are confident that despite the fluctuating costs in shipping, we can keep our prices stable for our customers for the foreseeable future.

EXPANDING OUR TRANSPORT NETWORK

Not only is it proving difficult to get goods into UK ports, it’s also becoming increasingly difficult to then get the goods from the ports to our warehouses, then from our warehouses to our customers. There’s a catalogue of reasons for this, including: increased port congestion; a shortage of UK drivers due to training being unavailable to new drivers during Covid lockdowns; the impact of Brexit on the number of European drivers working in the UK; congested depots; rail capacity is full... the list goes on. So, we’ve increased the number of logistics companies we partner with to ensure that we can receive our imported goods as quickly as possible.

INCREASED WAREHOUSING AND STORAGE

We have greatly expanded our capacity by investing in new headquarters. We now have more than 25,000 sq. ft of extra warehousing space. Consequently, we believe that we now have the highest stocking capacity of any European based basket importer, at well over 100,000 sq. ft in total. This allows us to house greater volumes of stock and enables us to reduce our delivery times, particularly during the busier months. It also means that, unlike some of our competitors, we can store orders for our customers who are struggling for space until they are ready to receive them.

EXPECTING THE UNEXPECTED

All the willow used to produce our basketware is coppiced from fast-growing regenerating crops that are cultivated solely for this purpose, sustaining traditional farming methods without the use of chemical application. However, as global temperatures have risen, summer seasons have become hotter and dryer meaning that crops have struggled to grow as well as in some previous years. Unlike a lot of basketware suppliers, we’ve been able to anticipate current shortages of the best quality willow essential for producing our products, therefore we’ve been able to keep our factories in operation and can continue to supply products of the very highest quality.


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