Retail giant Next warns of stock delays amid Red Sea missile crisis

Retail giant Next warns of stock delays amid Red Sea missile crisis

Charlie Peters reports on the stock delays caused by the Red Sea missile crisis

Charlie Peters

By Charlie Peters

Published: 04/01/2024

- 12:14

British retail giant's sales growth will likely be moderated, warns boss

The boss of retail giant Next has warned that it is likely to face stock delays and an impact on sales due to the disruption to commercial shipping in the Red Sea caused by terrorist missile attacks from Yemen.

Lord Simon Wolfson told the PA news agency that shipping could be delayed by two-and-a-half weeks as many haulage ships continue to bypass the Suez Canal route amid the heightened security risk.

Many of the world’s leading commercial shipping firms have avoided the route, adding over 5,000 miles to journeys by taking ships around the African Cape of Good Hope.

This alternative route can add over 14 days to transit.

Next store

Next is likely to face delays due to Red Sea terrorist attacks


Next warned that “some delays to stock deliveries” would be likely for the start of 2024 if the Red Sea’s partial blockade continues, PA reported.

Lord Wolfson told PA: “It could add another two to two and a half weeks to lead times in terms of getting stock to the UK.

“Because the ships have to travel further, there will be some level of surcharges.

“It will impact on sales if this persists for a long time, but not dramatic levels.”

He stressed these impacts would be “manageable.”

The warning from Next comes as economists ramp up concerns about incoming inflationary pressures to Britain.

Influential economist Philip Pilkington told GB News that a rise in inflation was “perfectly possible” as over 1 in 5 commercial ships continue to avoid the Red Sea.

Pilkington added: “The naval blockade in the Red Sea seems very real, with GPS tracking showing almost no container ships in the region.


Houthi fighter stands on the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea

Houthi fighters have been attacking ships in the Red Sea


“Container shipping rates are up 173% and traffic through the Suez Canal is down 28% in the past 10 days.

“The US Navy has failed in its attempts to counteract the blockade and now the question is not whether it will have an impact on inflation, but how much of an impact it will have.”

The Bar el-Mandeb strait, a 20-mile-wide passage between Djibouti and Yemen, is an area of particular concern, where Iran-backed Houthi terrorists have fired missiles and drone attacks on commercial vessels transiting to the Eastern Mediterranean.

The US-led maritime security coalition, dubbed Operation Prosperity Guardian, has been deployed in the Red Sea for over two weeks to deter the Houthi missile and drone attacks.

The Yemen-based rebels have continued to target commercial ships, seemingly unfazed by taking on some of the world’s most powerful militaries.

Last month, Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond shot down a projectile fired by the Houthis.

HMS Lancaster, a frigate, has also deployed to the Gulf to aid the US-led naval force.

French vessels have also shot down missiles, but the bulk of the defensive work has been conducted by the US Navy, which first shot down Houthi missiles in late October when USS Carney intercepted projectiles bound for Israel.

Fears that the engagement between the Houthis and Western navies could escalate have heightened in recent days amid the assassination of senior Hamas leaders in Beirut, the first attack on the Lebanese capital since the war started.

New flashpoints have erupted across the Middle East, with an explosion killing over 100 people in Iran as the tomb of former General Qassem Soleimani.

Last night, Washington issued a joint statement signed by 11 other nations warning the Houthis against further attacks.

“Let our message now be clear: we call for the immediate end of these illegal attacks and release of unlawfully detained vessels and crews,” it said.

The statement added: “The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways.”

The statement, signed by the UK, New Zealand, Bahrain, Germany and several other global powers, warned the Yemeni rebels that they would face “direct action” if their actions continued.

“These attacks threaten innocent lives from all over the world and constitute a significant international problem that demands collective action,” the statement continued.

France was not a signatory to the statement.

The maritime coalition is attempting to pose itself as separate from Israel’s invasion of Gaza, but some countries reportedly fear that joining Operation Prosperity Guardian could be considered tacit support for Israel’s war with Hamas.

Houthi military helicopter over the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea

There are fears that the engagement between the Houthis and Western navies could escalate


Israel has come under criticism for what has been perceived as excessive civilian casualties.

French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly cautioned Israel against civilian casualties in Gaza, warning that there would be no lasting peace if it comes at the cost of Palestinian lives.

The US-led statement, which was also signed by Japan and Australia, does not mention Israel or its war with Hamas.

The Houthis have repeatedly expressed that its missile and drone attacks are a reaction to Israel’s invasion of Gaza after the October 7 terror attacks, in which over 1,200 people were killed by Hamas terrorists, most of them innocent civilians.

The stark warning to the Houthis comes a week after Defence Secretary Grant Shapps warned that “direct action” and “further action” would be taken against the Houthis if their attacks continued.

The warning did not appear to deter the Iran-backed terrorists, who have continued to fire missiles on shipping since the statement.

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