Appliance supply shortage hits house builders: ‘We have to wait months’

Builders are complaining about an appliance shortage, saying final sign-off and handover of new homes is being delayed.

A national builder said kitchen appliances were in extremely short supply, particularly popular Fisher & Paykel ovens, stovetops and range hoods: “We have to wait months,” that executive said. “We’re switching to other brands as a result.”

This has meant delays in settling some new house purchases, said the builder who thought the problem was widespread so did not want to be named individually.

Fisher & Paykel spokesman Andrew Luxmoore said the manufacturer was doing all it could to fill rising orders.

“We’re currently seeing a huge demand for Fisher & Paykel products, as people invest more in their homes. It’s a demand we’re working hard to fill, with our manufacturing facilities around the globe running at record levels,” he said.

“With that surge in demand across much of the appliance and electronics industry comes constraints on components and longer wait times to source the parts we need. Add to this the strains being faced by ports across Asia-Pacific with high shipping volumes from all industries leading to significant delays, and it’s a complicated puzzle we need to solve,” Luxmoore said.

The shortage was hitting all manufacturers, not just F&P, he stressed.

“We know it can be frustrating to have to wait for a product or part. We’re working closely with our retail and commercial partners to keep them up to date on new stock arriving and making sure orders are fulfilled as soon as possible,” he said.

Fisher & Paykel appliances are made in China, Italy, Thailand and Mexico and Luxmoore said manufacturing timeframes were not the issue.

A Ports of Auckland spokesman acknowledged some delays at the container terminal “because at the moment we are short of labour”. But he pointed to manufacturing holdups rather than delivery issues.

“Except for the container terminal, there are no delays. We have had delays with shipping but we’re addressing that with more people,” he said.

One builder said he was forced to abandon plans for a full Fisher & Paykel suite of appliances through a new house due to the length of time they would take to arrive.

“Containers bound for New Zealand, full of all sorts of goods, are just being offloaded in places like Los Angeles and Kiwis are being told ‘you guys take it from there. It’s not worth it for us to get it all the way down there’,” the builder said.

“There are shortages of stoves, cooktops, range hoods, dishwashers. I’m starting to see comments on social media websites in the sector saying if you have not booked in 2021 orders, make sure you have an alternative,” the builder said.

Sales of chest freezers jumped when the national lockdown was declared towards the end of March, the builder said.

“Instead of about 400 of these things being sold by one brand in a month, they sold 4000. Everyone wanted to stockpile food,” he said.

A consumer who wanted a new television said she didn’t expect to get it till after Christmas, yet she had paid for it at the end of November.

Covid-19 has also created issues for owners of damaged cars, now faced with delays of up to 12 weeks fore replacements.

Wood prices are also picked to rise in the New Year due to a shortage in that sector.

Timber throughout New Zealand is heading into shorter supply, particularly for decking, landscaping and outdoor jobs.

Chiefs of Placemakers, Bunnings and Mitre 10 said demand had risen sharply lately.

Bruce McEwen, chief executive of distribution for Fletcher Building, which owns the national 63-store Placemakers chain, and Bunnings chief executive Jacqui Coombes acknowledged a somewhat unusual situation.

Jared Bernard, Mitre 10 NZ’s building products merchandise manager, said that since the first lockdown the business had seen customers invest in improving their homes.

“A key area has been within landscaping – customers wanting to build a new deck, put up a fence and so on. Mitre 10 is working closely with our supplier base to mitigate any stock shortages, but demand has surged so much that the supply of some timber products is challenged,” Bernard said.

Fletcher’s McEwen said timber supply volumes were well down and although products were available now, reserves were short.

Bunnings’ Coombes said demand for decking timber in particular had temporarily exceeded supply at some higher-volume stores nationally but suppliers were supporting Bunnings with fresh stock every week to meet demand.

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