No Christmas Booze for Brits? Businesses Weary of Delivery Chaos & Lack of Drivers

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Christmas drinks - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.11.2021
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Pernod Ricard, Moët Hennessy, and the Wine Society have joined other businesses in addressing UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in an open letter.
A total of 48 wine and spirits companies have warned Shapps that Britain is at risk of facing an alcohol shortage during the upcoming holiday period.
The businesses and members of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) identified a number of issues plaguing their operation.
Orders are taking weeks to process and freight costs have increased by about 7 percent, while drivers are becoming increasingly unpredictable in their arrival times. The spirits companies added that due to rising costs, they have been forced to raise heavy goods vehicles (HGV) drivers’ wages. However, some smaller businesses cannot afford the increase.

“As a particularly competitive industry, the inability to fulfil orders in a timely manner can result in the loss of business, as products can be easily replaced by comparable products from elsewhere in the world,” the WSTA said in a statement.

The WSTA and its members have called on the government to extend the temporary visa scheme for HGV drivers from 28 February 2022 to a minimum of one year.
The letter addressed to the UK Transport Secretary also mentioned the need to actively facilitate better routing of freight from ports (e.g., rail, river, coastal freight) and smaller UK-based driver networks for short-haul journeys.

“There is mounting concern amongst our membership that unless urgent action is taken, we will fall deeper into delivery chaos. 48 member companies have put their name to our letter calling on the Transport Secretary to extend the temporary visa scheme and improve transport routes. We are already seeing major delays on wine and spirit delivery times which is pushing up costs and limiting the range of products available to UK consumers. Government needs to be doing all it can to ensure British business is not operating with one hand tied behind its back over the festive season and beyond,” Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said.

Faced by the shortage of drivers over the last few months, the UK government has agreed to temporarily waive visa restrictions for lorry drivers from abroad to fill the void.
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