UK department store John Lewis charters boxships

John Lewis, a well known department store on the British high street, has become the latest large retailer to go public on its ship chartering plans amid this year’s extreme container crunch.

The chairman of John Lewis Partnership, which oversees the brands John Lewis and supermarket chain Waitrose, told London’s Evening Standard yesterday that as part of wider plans to ensure its shops are stocked for Christmas the decision has been taken to charter in some ships.

The company, via a freight forwarding partner it works with, has lined up a number of ships, chairman Sharon White said with out giving specific details.

“We are going very hard and really fast to make sure Christmas gets saved for our customers,” White told the Evening Standard.

Many other big retail names including Walmart, Ikea and Home Depot have done similar chartering moves in recent months as retail outlets struggle to get their goods ready for Christmas.

Ed Desmond, the executive vice president of the Toy Association in the US, warned the American public on Wednesday to get their Christmas shopping done early this year.

“Get out and buy toys now. If you see toys you think the kids are going to want for Christmas, pick them up now and tuck them away to make sure you have them. Right now, stores have a pretty healthy supply. We just don’t know what’s going to happen when we get down the road closer to Christmas,” the toy executive warned.

John Lewis is very well known in the UK for its annual Christmas television adverts.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. If the major lines are struggling with finding container ships and containers and the ports are struggling with congestion then how does John Lewis (even with a ”logistics partner”) expect to find, let alone operate a fleet of container ships and containers?
    Many lines went bankrupt in the 1980’s and 1990’s because they could not manage the logistics and cost control of running modest container fleets, so one can only hope that John Lewis have thought this through and that the consequences of their independent thinking will not bite them in the posterior later.

  2. Anyone can charter a vessel from it’s owner at a cost of a good few thousand dollars per day. Then fill full of containers with their own products. This will not reduce the problem of PORT CONGESTION at both load/discharge ports where containers ships are waiting weeks to be allocated a berth for either loading or discharging.

  3. The shipping lines : Maersk / Hapag Lloyd / COSCO etc are running a monopoly – market forces will change this as we see from John Lewis example

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