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International Removals

International removals specialist calls on UK government and competition watchdog to step in amidst global shipping crisis

John Mason International is joining a number of businesses, across the UK and abroad, in calling for the competition watchdog to investigate the shipping industry over soaring container costs.

One of the country’s leading international removals specialists, John Mason International was founded in 1884, and has been helping individuals and families move their lives abroad for over a century. Overseeing thousands of relocations each year to the likes of Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada, the company is well-versed in managing the challenging logistics involved. One vitally important aspect of an international move is shipping personal items from the UK to another corner of the globe.

Over the past 18 months, ports around the world have become congested and shipping containers have become increasingly scarce resulting in the cost of securing one soaring. A number of factors have contributed to these supply disruptions from Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, to the Suez Canal incident and more recently the lack of haulage.

“Delays have increased demand for shipping considerably – and freight prices have soared because of this,” says John Mason International director, Simon Hood. “If you want to send a standard 40ft container from East Asia to Europe, the spot price would now be around $13,000, when it would have been $2,000 before. And you still have to factor in additional costs and tariffs.

”Our expert team has many years’ experience dealing with shipping lines to ensure our customers’ valued items are transported safely to their new homes. They put their trust in us to provide the best possible service at a price they can afford.

“As one of the UK’s leading international removals specialists, our business relies heavily on the availability of shipping containers at realistic costs for our customers.

“We completely understand the difficulties shipping lines have faced over the past two years. It hasn’t been easy for anyone – no matter where in the world you are based. But, with life gradually returning to normal, we should be seeing improvements in the availability of containers, and we should also be benefiting from falling costs. Sadly, this is simply not the case.

“This year, as a business, we have seen a huge increase on shipping charges. And these price hikes aren’t just impacting our industry.”

Here, from the BBC, one business owner talks about increases from £1,200 to £10,000 – and another has seen an increase from $2,000 to $14,000.

“All this would be understandable if the increased container rates prompted a drop in volume, globally, allowing infrastructure, port and vessel congestion and equipment imbalances to recover,” adds Simon. “But this is simply not happening.

“Demand continues with the increased rate levels – and service and availability levels continue to drop. All this, and the shipping lines have announced record-breaking profits in the last quarter, into the billions of pounds.

“I have called on the British Association of Removers (BAR) and the International Federation of International Movers (FIDI) to add their weight to the call for a formal investigation into competition among the shipping lines.

“We have also written to MPs and the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Grant Shapps, asking for their support. Our local MP Rt Hon Sir George Howarth MP has escalated it to the Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng, and we are awaiting a response.

“As things currently stand, we are doing everything possible to ensure those wishing to move abroad can do so with minimal disruption. Due to the current shipping issues, the costs are higher – but we are not profiting from these rises. We believe the shipping industry should look closely at the knock-on effects of its actions, and consider a change to the way it is charging businesses across the world for its services.

“As one of the largest members of the Movers Trading Club (MTC) we are able to pass on more favourable container rates to our customers but the situation is still far from ideal. As far as the shipping lines are concerned, this is all about supply and demand – and I certainly feel they are making the most of what has been a very difficult situation.

‘On behalf of our customers, we at John Mason International will work tirelessly to help resolve this global crisis. A formal investigation by the competition watchdog would certainly be a step in the right direction.”

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