Supply problems could carry on for ‘12 months or even two years’

SUPPLY issues that are plaguing Island businesses could last for months or even years as the UK tackles a major recruitment crisis within the transportation industry, two local businessmen have warned.

Liberation Brewing Company. L>R Pat Dean, head brewer and Tim Hubert, managing director. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31594712)
Liberation Brewing Company. L>R Pat Dean, head brewer and Tim Hubert, managing director. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31594712)

With shop shelves across the Island increasingly laying bare, Tim Hubert and Patrick Dean, of Liberation Brewery, have blamed a lack of planning for the post-Brexit environment for the issues as haulage firms face a significant shortage of drivers.

The pair explained that their business had been affected by the issues as much as any other and that certain beers and wines might not be available.

Mr Hubert, the firm’s managing director, said: ‘We recently put out adverts for an HGV driver. Last year or two years ago we would’ve got 15 to 20 responses; this year we only got two,’ he said.

‘You’ve had the Brexit issues that meant EU nationals going back home, then you’ve got the Covid issue with all the tests and lessons for HGV drivers being stopped, so there’s nobody new coming into the industry. On top of that, the average age of an English HGV driver is 55 and they’re getting out the industry, with no one coming in to fill the gaps.’

Mr Hubert added that he expected the supply chain issues to last for at least a year.

‘People won’t be able to get their wine, beer, soft drinks, steak, chicken or whatever because we’re seeing the national supply chains suffering. This is going to go on and I can see it continuing for 12 months, or it could even be two years,’ he said.

Mr Dean, Liberation’s head brewer, explained that the UK government’s haste to sign a Brexit trade deal, which he said lacked detail, and exit the EU at the start of the year was the root of the problem.

He added: ‘There was a distribution network in Europe and a pool of resources. It was fine to say we don’t want to be part of the EU, but we needed time and a plan to fill those spaces, and we didn’t.

‘It’s down to Brexit because it was a last-minute deal and nothing was planned. The British government forced it through and spent all the time getting the deal done instead of thinking what conditions it would leave behind.

‘It’s created a vacuum and I think there’s a lot of people lost because of that.’

Adam Ewens, manager at Samarès Stores, said that he was concerned that smaller independent shops like his could be heavily affected by the supply chain issues.

‘We are struggling a lot with supplies. We are part of a buying group who buy supplies with the Co-op, who have been the worst affected by this,’ he said. ‘We have been having these problems for a couple of weeks now. It’s probably worse for smaller businesses, especially someone like us who tries to be more than just selling the basics. We try to do more in terms of groceries and so I think it has impacted on us more.’

Liliano Camacho, the manager of Manor Park Stores, said that he felt all businesses were in the same boat.

‘We’re the same as everywhere else. With certain brands and products we don’t know when they will be coming back.

‘If a supply or product runs out we aren’t able to get more right now and we don’t know when we will be able to,’ he said.

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