Re­tail­ers scram­ble as ship­per fails

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Some ma­jor re­tail­ers are scram­bling to work out con­tin­gency plans to get their mer­chan­dise to stores as the bank­ruptcy of the Han­jin ship­ping line has thrown ports and re­tail­ers around the world into con­fu­sion.

They don’t have a lot of time. Gi­ant con­tainer ships from the South Korean-based Han­jin ship­ping line are ma­rooned with their cargo ofwha­t­ex­perts say are lots of TVs and prin­ters, but also loads of home fur­nish­ings and cloth­ing.

Han­jin, the world’s sev­enth­largest con­tainer ship­per, filed for bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion Wed­nes­day and stopped ac­cept­ing new cargo. With its as­sets be­ing frozen, ships from China to Canada were re­fused per­mis­sion to off­load or take aboard con­tain­ers be­cause there were no guar­an­tees that tug­boat pi­lots or steve­dores would be paid. It’s also been a fac­tor in ship­ping rates ris­ing and could hurt some truck­ing firms with con­tracts to pick up goods fromHan­jin ships.

The SouthKorean gi­ant rep­re­sents nearly 8 per­cent of the trans-Pa­cific trade vol­ume for the US mar­ket. While some re­tail­ers may al­ready have mer­chan­dise for the hol­i­day sea­son af­fected, ex­perts say what’s most im­por­tant is that the is­sue be re­solved be­fore the crit­i­cal ship­ping month of Oc­to­ber.

“Re­tail­ers al­ways have ro­bust con­tin­gency plans, but this de­gree of un­cer­tainty is mak­ing it chal­leng­ing to put those plans in place,’’ said Jes­sica Dankert, se­nior di­rec­tor of re­tail op­er­a­tions for the Re­tail In­dus­try Lead­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, a trade al­liance with mem­bers in­clud­ing com­pa­nies like Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Tar­get.

J.C. Pen­ney said Han­jin is one of sev­eral ocean freight car­ri­ers that it uses and when it learned there might be an is­sue it be­gan to di­vert and reroute its con­tain­ers. It said it uses “a va­ri­ety of trans­porta­tion meth­ods and ports’’ and right now does not ex­pect a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on the flow of mer­chan­dise.

AFP

A se­cu­rity guard stand­ing at a dock at the Han­jin In­cheon Con­tainer Ter­mi­nal in Seoul, South Korea.

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