Iceland is having to cancel 250 store deliveries a week as it struggles to manage its inventory with the national truck driver shortage.
The reduction in store deliveries makes up 15 per cent of its usual frequency, meanwhile the grocer says it is short of drivers by around 100.
“For small stores like ours, with limited back-up stocks, a missed delivery quickly results in gaps on the shelves,” Iceland MD Richard Walker wrote in his latest blog.
In some of Iceland’s six distribution centres, the company has started to use “class 2” drivers who are only qualified to drive smaller and more rigid lorries, which makes for smaller deliveries.
“All our suppliers face the same issues, too, so every day we are missing around 10 per cent of the stock we have ordered into our depots,” Walker added.
He also criticised the “Westminster bubble” for classifying ballets dancers as skilled workers for immigration purposes but not lorry drivers.
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“I’m a big fan of culture myself, but I can’t help feeling that getting food on our tables really ought to take priority here,” he said.
Iceland is setting up its own driver course offering training for drivers to enable them to drive big articulated lorries however there is a six-month waiting list.
“I’m still kept awake by the scenes of panic buying in March 2020, and the longer the government leaves it to take action, the worse the current crisis is going to get and the bigger the gaps on the shelves we will see as consumer demand ramps up in the run-up to Christmas,” Walker continued.
“After the ‘lost Christmas’ of 2020, this year we may hope to be allowed larger family gatherings, but our ability to enjoy them looks like being very much at risk from food shortages.”
Walker has taken to his blog to call on more young people to get apply for driving roles to solve the ongoing crisis.
“Amazingly, the average age of a British truck driver is currently over 55,” he said.
“A job that comfortably pays £40,000 per year, nearly 30 per cent above average earnings should appeal to many.
“That it clearly doesn’t is a reflection on the lack of respect we show to those playing this vital role in our society.”