THE boss of supermarket Iceland says the supply chain chaos is getting worse, just as retailers start planning for the key Christmas period reports the BBC.
Richard Walker told the BBC he estimated the UK’s shortage of lorry drivers was now about 100,000, with the company itself about 100 short.
Christmas is almost upon retailers as planning starts now, Mr Walker said.
“The reason for sounding the alarm now is that we’ve already had one Christmas cancelled at the last minute,” he said.
“I’d hate this one to be problematic as well,” he added. “We start to stock-build from September onwards for what is a hugely important time of year,” he added.
“We’ve got a lot of goods to transport between now and Christmas and a strong supply chain is vital for everyone.”
“The driver shortage is impacting the food supply chain on a daily basis and leading to shortages on the shelves,” Mr Walker said.
“We’ve had deliveries cancelled for the first time since the pandemic began, about 30 to 40 deliveries a day.”
The simple solution he said, was for heavy goods vehicle drivers to be added to the UK’s skilled workers list, to help get drivers recruited from overseas.
“These men and women, these HGV drivers, have kept the show on the road for 18 months during the pandemic and it’s criminal that we’re not viewing them as skilled workers,” he told the BBC.
Asked if Brexit is responsible for the supply chain problems, Mr Walker responded: “I think so, but it’s a ‘self-inflicted wound’ rather than an inevitable consequence of Brexit, caused by the government’s failure to appreciate the importance of HGV drivers and the work they do for us.”
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