Wednesday 7 July 2021 11:16 am

Ocado deploys lorry drivers to help with national shortage as more names ask government for help

Ocado has had to deploy some of its own lorry drivers to help its suppliers get stock to its warehouses amid a national shortage of lorry drivers.

CEO Tim Steiner told trade magazine The Grocer that Ocado itself was handling the ongoing driver shortage well, but that some of its suppliers were struggling.

“We are managing well internally inside our business. We have our own team and they are capable of doing all the runs we need to do,” he said.

“Some of our suppliers are obviously affected by the shortage and we are helping some of them out where possible with our own team. We are absolutely trying to minimise the effects to our end customers.

“We are helping out where we can and trying our best to make sure we get all the deliveries we want to our facilities.”

The Road Haulage Association has estimated the UK is short of around 100,000 HGV drivers.

Last month industry leaders warned Britain could face gaps on supermarket shelves this summer and an “unimaginable” collapse of supply chains after the pandemic and Brexit led to the shortage.

Tesco and Sainsburys have said they have been struggling with the shortage, while the likes of Premier Foods has called upon the government to consider using the army to distribute goods.

So far, the government has resisted calls to put European lorry drivers on a skilled shortage list, which would enable European drivers to easily move to and work in the UK.

Today the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) added its voice to the chorus of industry representatives calling upon the government to review the occupations eligible for a visa to including specialist piling rig operators, HGV drivers and others.

CLC co-chair Andy Mitchell said: “We now have a situation where we believe the government needs to intervene.

“Manufacturers, merchants and builders large and small are having products and materials delayed or not delivered, and warn that it is having a knock-on effect on construction schedules and leading to higher build costs.

“Industry can only take this so far, and as government is also the largest client of construction services, we trust it will listen to the calls from all sectors to enable timely and appropriate reviews of the new immigration system.”