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Raymond van der Putten from the Dutch Zuiver Interior Group:

'Fortunately, we can still assist our customers in the right way'

Raymond van der Putten of Zuiver Interior Group - a family of interior brands including Zuiver, Dutchbone, and a white-label collection - faces unexpected events on a daily basis, such as the current situation in and around the Suez Canal. Due to strong growth, he joined the company as Supply Chain Director in 2019. His mission: to introduce structured processes into a company with creative genes to facilitate growth. Now, Van der Putten and his team are responsible for the entire operations of Zuiver Interior Group.

In an interview with InteriorDaily, he discusses specific challenges, the impact on delivery times, additional costs, communication with suppliers in China, possible alternative routes, and lessons learned for future supply chain planning. These insights provide a perspective on how a leading interior brand company deals with unexpected events and collaborates with logistics partners to minimise the impact.

Raymond van der Putten is Director of Operations at Zuiver Interior Group.

How has the situation in the Suez Canal affected your supply chain and production processes in China?
'Lead times have become longer due to the detour, which influences decisions within inventory management and production order input.'

What specific challenges are you currently facing?
'The challenge lies in the uncertainty of how long this situation will last, whether it will become structural or return to normal levels next month. This makes future planning difficult. Themes from the COVID-era are returning to the agenda, such as re-shoring voluminous products, passing on surcharges, etc.'

To what extent do shipping delays affect the delivery times of your products?
'The extra time taken by the detour initially caused us to experience delays, but now we are bringing forward planned production orders. This requires tight planning.'

Have you had to incur additional costs due to these delays?
'As a result of the situation, freight costs are currently significantly higher. Calling off orders earlier (if necessary to maintain stock availability) also temporarily increases working capital requirements.'

How do you communicate with your suppliers in China?
'We (the operations department) have daily contact with suppliers and communicate with them in a portal of the logistics service provider. This keeps the 3 parties involved and up to date with the situation.'

Have you noticed that your suppliers are also experiencing difficulties due to this situation?
'Not yet in operation. In the long term, if the situation persists, it may affect the number of purchases.'

Have you considered alternative routes for your goods?
'For voluminous goods like most in our range, air freight is not an option due to the costs. Fortunately, our stock is very well maintained, and we can still assist our customers in the right way.'

Are there specific measures you are considering?
'Continuously discussing with supply chain partners about existing alternatives or those being developed.'

Do delivery delays have consequences for your contractual agreements with suppliers?
'Not yet, as this additional lead time is not caused by the producer.'

Are there clauses in your contracts that specifically relate to situations like the Suez Canal?
'No different from the usual force majeure clauses, which this incident falls under.'

Are you considering making changes to your future supply chain planning?
'We continuously look at the distribution of suppliers and collections, and the risks resulting from geopolitical tensions and incidents. We try to anticipate this as much as possible.'

How do you collaborate with logistics partners and other stakeholders to minimise the impact?
'Our organisation is used to working in partnerships, which means that communication is frequent and open. This helps enormously in situations like this.'

Have you learned lessons about collaboration and communication with your partners in times of unexpected events?
'As unpleasant as this is, the lessons we learned earlier, during COVID, have given us some experience. This allows us to respond quickly to the situation.'

More information:
Zuiver Interior Group
[email protected]

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