Trug Availability.Posted on:
Our South Down Contemporary Trugs are made using Russian and Finnish birch plywood. As a result of the Ukraine war the Russian 4mm plywood that we use for the handles and rims of these Trugs is no longer available to us. The boards are made from Finnish birch and Latvia also makes birch plywood. However, neither country currently makes 4mm ply. Finland and Latvia also relied heavily on imports of timber from Russia. Prices for plywood increased over night by well over 100% and so we have needed to revise our prices accordingly. This price increase applies to all types of plywood from wherever it is obtained. We are currently researching using ply other than birch plywood if we can be assured of availability. If trials are not successful then we may need to stop making this collection until the world is put to rights.
We have severely curtailed the making of this collection of Trugs and are in the process of retraining staff to make the Royal Sussex Traditional Trugs.
Our Royal Sussex Traditional Trugs are made using sweet chestnut for the handles and rims and cricket bat willow for the boards. These are English sourced woods and so are unaffected by supply chain issues at the moment. However, last year we lost two of our apprentices. One had just finished his three year apprenticeship and had to leave to support his young son as his full time carer. The other was our second year apprentice and left for greener fields. In April our Master Craftsman, Chris, left to resume his career as an accountant as he had re-joined us during Covid year to help us fulfil the influx of orders. This makes us three people short in our workshop.
We have recruited a part time member of staff to help with processing the timber and are currently seeking a new first year apprentice. However, it takes time to train folk in our craft, so production will be down for a while
It has been a very difficult decision to make by we have to be realistic to ensure the long term future for our endangered craft and our short term practices. Consequently we have decided to reduce the quantity of South Down Trugs we make and reduce the range of Royal Sussex Trugs that we can offer customers. This will be a temporary thing as we grapple with the fast moving obstacles that governments and world events throw in our path, like many other small businesses. However this will allow us to concentrate on a smaller variety of Trugs and will also enable us to make Trugs more quickly as we will not need to swap from one style/size to another on a constant basis.
We still struggle to find a way to supply consumer customers in the European Union as a result of Brexit and the terrible “deal” that H.M. Government concluded with the EU Commission. It is not possible currently to send Trugs to consumers at a value of under 150 euros due to VAT regulations within the E.U. However, we are working with a long term partner in The Netherlands to endeavour to find a solution to this and other issues revolving around supplying customers in the E.U. since Brexit, including “first importer” status that has meant we have lost one of our biggest and oldest customers in Germany. We hope that the solution on which we are working will also enable us to attend shows in the E.U. once again. None of these issues faced us when the United Kingdom was a member of the European Union and life was far less complicated for businesses doing trade either way.