When you live in a country that has reopened after Covid, it is easy to think that the rest of the world is too. But the truth is, we who work with production and have production facilities in Europe and Asia now notice the effects of Covid extremely well.
All KAOS bags are manufactured in Vietnam. Here we find professional machinery with the technology we need to make the recycled, certified PET fabric that we use in our bags. Vietnam had almost no outbreaks last year when the rest of the world was in a state of emergency. However, Covid started ravaging this spring, and Vietnam went into lockdown this summer.
For our part, we had a batch of delivery that was ready for pickup and were to be sent in July, but which thus remained standing still for 3 months. In September, the batch could finally be released and picked up, and we are happy to receive the goods before Christmas.
Now our factories in Vietnam are back at work, but they only have 40% capacity due to quarantines and illness. That means big delays. A production that before the summer took 90 days to complete, now takes 160 days to complete. This means that we have to place twice as large orders and wait twice as long to get the goods forward. This is demanding for a small business, it really challenges our liquidity.
We are crossing our fingers that Vietnam will quickly get back in balance, that people will get vaccinated and be able to stay healthy.
And we cross our fingers that there are enough containers to transport goods forward. Access to containers is also a huge challenge after Covid.
All our chair production takes place in Europe. And Europe has been a roller coaster since Covid broke out in 2020. We had budgeted for a steep increase in production of Klapp starting summer of 2020, in order to meet the demand from our customers. But our factory struggled to increase volume due to lockdowns, quarantine, and illness. At the same time, they were getting ready to increase operations with a larger fleet of machines after the summer holidays. Regardless, due to the experience of friction in production, we engaged a second producer, this one based in Slovenia, to ensure that we could increase volume and secure deliveries for the future.
It is important to remember that in Norway, we take vaccines more or less without thinking about it, compared to other countries in, for example, Eastern Europe. Here they do not necessarily have the same trust in the authorities, and they might be extremely skeptical about the vaccine. As a result, few choose to be vaccinated, and thus Covid continues to ravage.
Anyways. At our factory, about 50% of the employees have been vaccinated, and they are working hard on motivational campaigns to increase the proportion. They even have health personnel at the factory who offer daily vaccinations of employees. Still, they are under the red zone, and all operate with limited capacity and three times as long lead times.
During the summer holidays, we were predicted that we would get 2,000 chairs in stock in August. But in August, 150 chairs arrived from our manufacturer in Latvia. They had increased their machinery, but all of a sudden they were unable to deliver due to major challenges with capacity and staffing. The next supply from our producer in Latvia is due in November.
Fortunately, we had hired a new chair manufacturer, and our new manufacturer in Slovenia was set to deliver a large batch of chairs this October. 15 pallets with parts of chairs are waiting to be painted and assembled. The day before they were to be painted, we learn that a bottleneck has arisen: One of the components we use in the lacquer on Klapp had not been delivered on time. And this small but irreplaceable component now delays all chair deliveries from our new supplier. Which again was to be delivered in October – now we don’t know when.
We are in contact with the supplier of lacquer, which is headquartered in Italy. They do everything they can to push the process on their side. As soon as we have a date from them, we know when the new manufacturer can deliver the 15 pallets of Klapp chairs.
Bottom line: It feels like living in a vacuum where none of the manufacturers dare to guarantee their deliveries due to too many unpredictable events that constantly occur throughout the supply chain. No one has experienced anything similar during their long experience in the industry. It is a state of emergency. And forgive my language, but everyone finds it pretty fucked up.
We must ask for patience and understanding. We do everything we can. Today we cannot be more concrete “we expect to be able to deliver chairs in November”. Then again, in November, we expect to be supplied A LOT of chairs. At some point, we will have a solid ketchup effect.
The mold for Klapp Tray and the new Klapp Safety Rail is being made, they will be ready made on November 3rd. Then we need to make some production samples, run the production samples through some laboratory tests that need to be successfully verified, until we can start production. We do hope to launch our new Safety Rail ans Tray on Pre-order during November, and we hope to have them ready for delivery in December.
Our Klapp Newborn Set is a bit behind schedule simply, there have been tons of adjustments in order to prepare it for production. We can’t afford to have any mistakes here, the demands for tolerance are extreme. However, we do expect to have the mold ready in November/December. Then, same procedure here: Test production samples before we can start production.
KAOS is still a small company and we are completely dependent on maintaining the turnover in order to survive. And we are completely dependent on a production that can scale to reach our potential. It goes without saying that it is extremely demanding to keep sales when goods are not delivered. Small players such as KAOS have unfortunately suffered in favor of already large brands that trump the queue because they have the ability to pay more and thus become a priority.
Despite all the challenges, KAOS is growing. We’re glad to learn so many people want our backpacks, wall bars, and folding high chairs. The last two years have been characterized by Covid to the highest extent, yet we have increased turnover yearly by 100%.
We are now working hard to secure deliveries before Christmas, and those who know us know that we do not give up so easily. We are completely dependent on your support to get through this, and we want to thank every single customer. I do not think you understand how much the support you give when you shop from small brands actually means, but for us it simply means everything <3
Gineline and Mette