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Covid, what have you done to us?

It's been about three years since Coronavirus changed the course of world history, and now that things are pretty much back to normal, I thought it timely to give an update as to where it has left Otters Pool studio, and the framing industry as a whole.

Fortunately, it's mostly good news for us but it hasn't been without issues over the last couple of years.

Lockdown meant that we could not open our showroom as it was classed as non-essential retail, but our workshop was able to operate under the restrictions. Where some other less enterprising framers simply shut up shop for an indefinite period of time, we found ways to continue to provide a service to our customers whilst staying within the rules and regulations, and on the whole we remained busy throughout, seeing just a small downturn in turnover over the course of 2020.

The same was not the case with some of our supply chain, with the biggest challenge for us being the availability of our range of frame mouldings. We buy all of our frame moulding from three UK distributors, who in turn buy moulding from the manufacturers, mostly spready throughout Europe. Some of these manufacturers unfortunately went out of business, and some of my standard range of mouldings were discontinued. Those that stayed afloat thinned out their ranges, as did the UK distributors to save on warehousing costs, and this removed even more mouldings from our wall. Those that remained then came under heavier demand, and along with further customs delays introduced by the UK departure from the EU, resulted in many ranges being out of stock for extended periods. But, we soldiered on and with the patience of those customers who had to wait a little longer than usual, we continued to fulfil our orders.

Most of our products from European manufacturers are shipped by container, and the price of doing so increased from around $1,500 per container to $12,000. Most of our suppliers review their prices annually, but we saw mountboard prices increased three times on one year due to the rise of energy and shipping prices. We had no choice to increase our prices a little, but were able to cap the rise with the help of a couple of small local Government grants (we did not claim all that were offered to us) and, of course, the amazing support from our loyal customers.

Most of the supply issues have now been resolved, we have some new frame ranges to replace those that were removed, and some of the supplier price rises have been reversed, so whilst we are certainly not completely out of the woods with regards to Covid, we are happy to have weathered the storm and look forward to continuing to provide our quality framing, printing and website services to our customers.


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