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Space is Tight, Are Your Protected?

Container ships sailing from China to the U.S. have remained full since Hanjin unexpectedly filed for bankruptcy at the end of August. Specific areas, such as Ningbo and Shanghai, are providing far greater challenges for shippers to secure space than the Southern China region. Ocean carriers have been actively rolling cargo from Shanghai and Ningbo for over a month. Some carriers are reporting utilization levels exceeding 125% from Ningbo.

So how can shippers protect themselves and ensure their cargo is loaded during these peak space crunches? There are several steps shippers can take. The most important tool shippers can use is container forecasting. Shippers that provide 4 to 6 week running forecasts are far less likely to encounter space issues than shippers that don’t provide a forecast. The more detailed information provided such as origin, destination, container size, volume and ship week all increase the chances your cargo will be loaded. Telling your carrier that you plan to move 10 containers from China over the next 6 weeks is not enough information to guarantee space during peak shipping periods.

Another step shippers can take is spreading out container volume between several ocean carriers. The phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” couldn’t be more relevant considering the Hanjin situation. Shippers that relied 100% on Hanjin to move their cargo have been scrambling to find space. In most instances, the cost to secure this space has come at a very steep price for shippers.

Finally, it is important that shippers support their carriers on a year round basis. Carriers are much more inclined to provide space to shippers that support them during peak and non-peak shipping periods. Carriers are starting to push back against shippers that expect space during peak but abandon them for lower spot rates during non-peak periods. While some carriers may ultimately provide the space, the cost for the space will be at significant premium to the shipper.

The current market has been very difficult for shippers that rely primarily on the spot rate market to move their cargo. The Hanjin bankruptcy announced on August 31st was a game changer. On September 1st, spot rates spiked and space was suddenly a major issue. IHSA’s focus, which is driven by the members, is not the spot rate market. Stable contract rates and space protection during peak and non-peak shipping periods are an integral part of IHSA’s formula for success. IHSA’s management team works with members to develop forecasts, makes certain a good mix of carriers are available and provides support to carrier partners on a year round basis.


The International Housewares Shippers Association (IHSA) is a not-for-profit association formed to benefit companies belonging to the International Housewares Association (IHA). Through the combined leverage of members, IHSA negotiates freight contracts and partners with other logistics providers to lower supply chain costs.

IHSA’s main function is to negotiate the lowest possible transportation rates and provide the highest quality service for all participating members. Additionally, IHSA members receive valuable market intelligence and advice through regular newsletters and briefings.

IHA member companies looking to reduce their ocean freight costs or have questions about an ocean freight issue are encouraged to contact IHSA to learn about the program.  Contact IHSA at +1-513-489-4743 and learn more on our website.

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Retail Profile: Now You’re Cooking

Retailer: Now You’re Cooking
Owners: Jerry Martins, Barbara Lynn
Location: Ithaca, N.Y.
Founded: 1986
Square footage: 1,500 net sq ft

When is a kitchen sieve not a kitchen sieve? When it an aphid separator, says Jerry Martins, who should know.

As one of the owners of Now You’re Cooking, in the college town of Ithaca, N.Y., Martins and his business partner Barbara Lynn count scientists and professors from nearby Cornell University as customers, along with the usual foodies seen by most kitchenware shops. And sometimes requests from the academic crowd can get, well, “a little weird,” Martins says.


Jerry Martins stocks a wide range of products in his Ithaca, N.Y. store.

One customer, a genetics researcher, bought a high-end Italian-made sieve and showed it to visiting scientists from China. She billed the sieve as a tool she had developed to separate adult aphids from baby aphids, and her visitors were impressed. Aphids are widely used in genetics research and separating adults from babies is a chore. The sieve worked perfectly for this application.

The researcher then bartered her “special-aphid-separating tool” for some proprietary Chinese aphid research and snuck back down to Now You’re Cooking to buy boxes of the sieves to deliver to her visitors. Martins helped her by “scraping off all the price tags and any other labeling identifying the sieve as a kitchen tool,” he says. “She ran right back to the lab from the store, boxes of sieves in hand.”

And it gets weirder when it comes to small electric appliances. “We get people coming down from the science labs asking us, ‘Will this food processor chop up cockroaches?’,” Martins says.

His answer? “I don’t really know. It’s not in the manual, I mean those companies don’t test for that.” (His customers reported back that, yes, they do work.)

Though located in a scenic pedestrian mall, smack between Cornell University and Ithaca College, Now You’re Cooking’s customers are professors, town residents and people who are visiting the area, rather than undergraduates, Martins says, even though the store is surrounded by college kids.

“The only student customers we get are international students because they can’t find the cooking vessels they need for their home-country dishes in Walmart,” he says, citing paella pans as an example.


Now You’re Cooking caters to scientists as well as foodies.

And most customers are actually interested in cooking, not aphid sorting. Thanks to the requests of the widely travelled members of the academic community, the two store owners have focused on international cookware over their past 30 years of operation. Martins notes that includes bringing in espresso machines before the small appliance became ubiquitous.

“Espresso makers were a request from the Cornell professors who would go abroad on sabbaticals and come back talking about the fabulous coffee they had had in Italy,” he says. The number of foreign researchers and visitors arriving in Ithaca to spend time teaching at Cornell has also helped boost support for a wider range of products in the store, he adds.

Martins also says catering to the academic crowd makes customer service for his store all that more important, as they must have the knowledge to explain the products in depth to their inquisitive customers.

“That a product works and is pretty isn’t enough to cut it here,” he says. “People shopping here are always worried about what is in the product: whether it is BPA free; whether it is renewable; where is it made; what is it made out of. Our customers read a lot and want to know everything. It keeps us on our toes.”

Martins credits his manufacturer’s reps for helping keep his team up to speed on the basic product knowledge: “My reps come well prepared, but often we have to call the companies for more information.”

And it’s not just international cookware on the menu. His sales team needs to explain how to use more basic American cookware to those customers here from other lands who want to make traditional American meals. To that end, Martins employs several women over 70, including one who at 86 shines as a beacon to cooking novices. “Everyone looks at her and thinks she knows how to cook,” Martins says.

That employee, he says, has other key retail experience, lost on the younger set. “She knows how to make change,” Martins says. “The Cornell kids I hire to work here haven’t had the experience of making change.”

The bottom line though, is good old-fashioned customer service. “We spend a lot of time talking to our shoppers about what they really need. I’ve talked people out of buying a pasta machine because it was wrong for them,” he says. “You may not make the sale that day, but if you tell people the truth, they come back because they trust us. It is just good business.”

Martins remembers a customer from China who was a graduate student at Cornell and wanted recreate a many-tiered layer cake that she had been served at the home of one of her professors. While a brilliant researcher, layer cakes were outside her comfort zone.

“She came into the store looking to buy a stockpot thinking that was the tool to make a ‘big volume cake,’ along with a barbecue skewer, which she thought would work as a cake tester for that cake since it was long enough,” he says.

That customer was intercepted by Martins, who then explained that layer cakes were actually baked in layers, directing her to use several pans rather than one large stock pot.  Years later she came back into the store, found him and said, “Remember me? You taught me to cook.”


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Global Retail Intelligence – October 2016

October 1 – D Mart, India
The Business Standard (Mumbai) reports that India supermarket operator, D Mart “is looking to add over 60 per cent more space in the next three years. The chain, the third largest retailer after Future Group and Reliance Retail, has 3.4 million square feet of retail space now and is looking to add 2.1million sq. ft. by FY20.” More is available from The Business Standard.

October 3 – Tesco, UK
Reuters says today that Tesco, Britain’s largest retailer, “reported strong first half results and set higher profitability targets that showed confidence that it could maintain the momentum. Hopes are rising among investors that Britain’s established supermarkets can succeed in fighting back against German discounters Aldi and Lidl, who have rapidly built up market share in recent years.”  More information is available from Reuters.

October 4 –Indonesian Online Business
Bloomberg says that Indonesia has consulted Jack Ma of Alibaba for advice on how to grow its online retail business. Calling it the world’s number 6 emerging market, Bloomberg adds that “Indonesia has an e-commerce market that McKinsey & Co. says can be one of the fastest-growing in the world, part of a digital economy adding $150 billion a year to gross domestic product by 2025.” More information and video are available on Bloomberg.

October 10 – Chinese Economic Growth
The Wall Street Journal reported today that Chinese consumers may be under debt stress and that may be depressing China’s economic growth. “A rough measure of consumer indebtedness, household borrowing as a percentage of household bank deposits is now above 50%, double what it was in 2009.” Additional analysis is available from The Wall Street Journal.

October 12 – Sainsbury & Argos, UK
Bloomberg reports that “Sainsbury will open Argos branches or collection points inside almost all of its stores.” Sainsbury operates 601 supermarkets and 782 convenience stores to complement the 739 Argos current outlets. More information is available from Bloomberg.

October 12 – Tesco, UK
The BBC reports that Tesco has removed several key consumer brands as Unilever attempted a price increase due to weakness of the Pound. For additional details, see the BBC website.

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Book Your Hotel for the Show at The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel, on the Magnificent Mile

Book now and enjoy these additional incentives:

  • Named one of the Top 10 Hotels in Chicago by Travel + Leisure magazine in 2016
  • Special rates for attendees of the 2017 International Home + Housewares Show, starting at $195
  • NEW: Complimentary wireless internet in guestrooms
  • NEW: Enjoy two ways to earn Double SPG Starpoints on your stay:
    1. – For reservations made before January 31, 2017, receive Double SPG Starpoints on your entire stay
    2. – For reservations made before February 28, 2017, receive Double SPG Starpoints on pre- and post-night stays
  • NEW: Guests will receive one Gwen wooden nickel – redeemable for one cocktail – upon check-in. The tradition of wooden nickels hearkens back to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933, when these tokens were initially distributed as souvenirs and later accepted by merchants as a type of currency, commonly redeemable for goods, such as drinks.

Book Your Discounted Room at The Gwen!

Contemporary with an artistic soul, The Gwen, a member of Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ prestigious Luxury Collection portfolio, is thrilled to welcome attendees of the International Home + Housewares Show this upcoming March and have them experience our new guestrooms.

Thanks to The Gwen’s prime location soaring above the Magnificent Mile, guests can embrace a true sense of place as they explore and discover hundreds of shops, restaurants, and attractions that are all within walking distance. The beauty of the Windy City can even be appreciated without leaving the 311-room hotel, as it offers landmark views from many of its guestrooms and signature Terrace Suites.

Design reigns supreme at The Gwen, which debuted newly refreshed public areas in May, displaying the work of the renowned Chicago-based Simeone Deary Design Group. The team re-invigorated the space, located in the historic McGraw-Hill Building on North Michigan Avenue, to celebrate the energy and glamour of Chicago in the 1930s, with a modern twist.

This heritage pays homage to the hotel’s namesake, Gwen Lux, a young sculptress who, in 1929, created the zodiac-inspired relief panels that adorn the exterior of the building, many of which are still in place today. Embracing Lux’s body of work, artistic spirit, and the Art Deco-era in which she thrived, the hotel proudly carries her legacy throughout. From recreations of her famed panels in the hotel’s lower lobby, to images of the artist herself creatively weaved into the décor, The Gwen amplifies the indelible mark Lux left on Chicago.

As part of the property enhancements unveiled in 2016, The Gwen also debuted two exciting dining experiences: Circa Restaurant & Lounge, which highlights the rich diversity of American cuisine, and Upstairs at The Gwen, a rooftop terrace that serves creative sips and delectable small plates with a panoramic view of downtown Chicago. Both outlets celebrate the art of craft cocktails, giving a special nod to Prohibition-era libations, such as the Boulevardier and the Gin Rickey.

Explore The Gwen through the snapshots below:



Forecasting Currency Fluctuations in Uncertain Times

In their October 2016 Currency Outlook report, Tempus, an exchange rate and global payments company, indicates that the globe is going through a period of readjustment as markets find direction in the midst of downside risks to overall economic growth and limits to the scope of intervention by central banks.  The two-page report reviews recent currency changes and previews events that may have an impact on future exchange rates.

IBC Members can download the Currency Outlook from the members-only section of the IBC website under the Special Reports section.  IBC membership is free for all regular IHA members – to learn more and to join, visit the IBC membership information page.


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