War in Iraq hits retail supply chains

War in Iraq is starting to hit retail supply chains - causing delivery delays, which may result in price hikes.

John Lewis said the arrival of air freight merchandise from India was being delayed by two days because of the military action. Aircraft flying from India are carrying extra fuel to enable pilots to cope with any route changes forced by proximity to the war zone. The additional fuel stash reduces cargo space by nearly a third.

John Lewis sells jewellery, garments and soft-furnishing fabrics sourced from the sub-continent and overspill is being accommodated on later flights, contributing to the two-day delay.

The world's largest retailer Wal-Mart has also been forced to adapt to the war and has developed contingency plans to cope with emergency changes to its shipping routes. It has global procurement offices in the Middle East and is maintaining regular contact with manufacturers and suppliers to ensure everything continues to run smoothly.

Alternative shipping routes for globally sourced products have been devised to ensure business as usual at its Asda stores in the UK. The grocer has sufficient buffer stock to maintain availability, it said.

The war is also fuelling a massive rise in global shipping insurance premiums.