Coronavirus hits home decor firms with gaps in supply

Gaps emerging in supply for items including door magnets, plywood and bespoke furniture finishes

A cargo ship in transit: Some suppliers are seeing gaps in supply chains due to the coronavirus. Photograph: iStock

A cargo ship in transit: Some suppliers are seeing gaps in supply chains due to the coronavirus. Photograph: iStock


While the potential impact of coronavirus on food and medicine supplies is a hot topic, less obvious but increasingly concerning for local businesses is supply chain disruption to home decor supplies.

Muriel Simpson, associate director at House & Garden Furnishings, who fits out showhomes and large buy-to-let apartment schemes with furniture and finishes, has been surprised by some stock shortages.

While all its sofas are made in Ireland some of the component parts, like higher end leg options, come from China. “If the client wants the black, powder-coated or fancy chrome feet then stock is limited.”

Most of their fabrics too are brought in through UK suppliers but some of those are made in China. “Even products made in Europe have elements outsourced, a lot of the manmade kitchen countertops, for example,” she says.

House & Garden Furnishings has moved some of its large-scale fit-out manufacturing from Vietnam and China to Europe. “These are offering to either match or meet half way on pricing,” Simpson says.

Dominic Ryan, director of Gorey-based, bespoke kitchen company Andrew Ryan, uses mainly European suppliers but he is seeing gaps in his supply chain too for items like magnets for doors and sheet materials such as plywood. He says the shortages were flagged by suppliers by email about two weeks ago. He isn’t too concerned, for now, as the company holds large levels of stone stock, but they currently have their Manchester office scouring companies for fashionable products like Cesarstone to ship to Ireland.

Meanwhile northern Italy, the European region most severely impacted by coronavirus, is home to leading global furniture design houses. Helen Kilmartin of upscale furniture shop Minima, an agent for many luxury Italian brands, says the current pipeline seems unaffected and they currently use warehousing facilities to store stock while waiting on completion of a building job.

“We’re getting letters from all our manufacturers to say that everything is fine. At the moment we have no interruptions but we don’t know if that’s going to change or not.”