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Retailer warns of global tackle shortage amid surge in participation

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Chris Ryan, Buyer and Catalogue Manager at Sportfish, the UK-based retailer and owner of a fishery in the south of England.
↑ Ian Welch, Farlows Group Marketing Manager. The business owns the famed ‘gentleman’s outdoor outfitters’ in London’s Pall Mall.

A leading retailer of fishing tackle in the UK has warned of a possible global shortage of product at a time when the market is experiencing a surge in participation.

Farlows Group Marketing Manager Ian Welch and Chris Ryan, Buyer and Catalogue Manager at its sister business, Sportfish, which has two stores and a fishery in the south of England, spoke exclusively to Angling International, about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their business and the industry as a whole.

They said: “The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen businesses around the world halt production and that has triggered supply chain closures and reduced staffing in all aspects of the industry, from factory to warehouse and airport to local courier. This means that there are severe delays in products becoming available.

“There is a distinct possibility of a global shortage of some tackle, especially if there are second spikes in some of the key manufacturing countries. New issues seem to be arising every day.

“The real challenges for the trade relate to supply and there is a ‘perfect storm’ brewing and that could see large price rises ahead.”

Since getting the green light to reopen its Berkshire fishery and stores, the business has experienced a surge in sales. “The number of beginner kits we are selling has been quite remarkable as many people decide to try fishing for the first time.

“Our challenge is trying to keep those non fishers in the sport now that other activities are becoming increasingly available to them.”

They added that Sportfish and Farlows’ London store fared ‘reasonably well’ during lockdown as the business took crucial decisions early to ensure it continued to offer customers the ‘exceptional’ service they have enjoyed with the company, both via its online portals and the expertise of its team at the end of a telephone.

“Additionally, we reached out through our social media channels to instruct and entertain via live fly tying sessions and interviews with leading anglers and industry specialists. Lockdown for us meant being proactive and reaching out to anglers.”

The pair believe that the lockdown has accelerated online shopping and the advent of cashless transactions by a number of years.

“It is certain that many customers who were perhaps resistant to the online shopping experience have now seen how simple it is and we envisage increased online business for the rest of the year and beyond.

“To this end, our marketing and e-commerce teams are working to ensure our processes are improved and enhanced to make the experience as easy as possible across all platforms.

“The UK trade in general has been very positive for retailers following the easing of lockdown restrictions with excellent online shopping and strict procedures in place to ensure staff safety while picking, packing and dispatching orders.”

Filed In: Product News