Driver shortages persist but government told 'it's not too late to get a grip on supply chains'

Fri 3 Sept 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The UK government should “get a handle” on the supply chain crisis ahead of Christmas, said the chair of the UK Trade and Business Commission, which scrutinises the UK’s post-Brexit trade deals. 

An extraordinary session of the group yesterday was set up to hear about the problems causing the current shortage of HGV drivers affecting supply chains across all industries. 

Stark picture

Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, who chaired the hearing, said witnesses painted a stark picture for the months ahead unless the government acted quickly.

“They made it quite clear that red tape and labour shortages from Brexit have exacerbated problems that are being acutely felt across production, processing, manufacturing, retail and of course logistics,” he told the Guardian.

“The government needs to get a handle on this both in the short and long term and we will be making recommendations based on the evidence we heard today,” he added.

‘On the edge’

Giving evidence, Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), warned that the situation would become “more challenging” for retailers over the next three months unless the government acted, reports Retail Sector

“We’ve had challenging periods…what’s different this time is we feel we’re always just on the edge of coping. Anything exceptional will be a challenge,” he said.

He added: “It’s not too late for the government to do something to make sure there isn’t a problem over Christmas.”

Drinks on hold?

Sky adds that Coca-Cola and Diageo are the latest brands suffering from supply chain problems, endangering the traditional festive vodka and coke. 

The bottling business for Coca-Cola in the UK and Europe has reported a shortage of aluminium cans to add to the ongoing issues surrounding a lack of lorry drivers.

Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo, whose brands include Guinness, Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff vodka, told Sky that the company’s teams were doing an “extraordinary job” to fulfil the global demand for its products in the next few months.

“It is more challenging... particularly on logistics and shipping round the world and on procuring some of our packaging materials etc,” he said.