A group of 48 wine and spirits companies have warned the government that due to HGV driver shortages some alcoholic beverages could be missing during the festive period.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has been warned by the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) as they wrote to Shapps informing him many companies are struggling to provide drinks for their customers.
The letter sent to Shapps was signed by major brands including Moet Hennessy, Pernod Ricard and Campari.
They wrote, “Businesses are still struggling, and further action is needed, particularly now in the run up to Christmas, a critical trading period for our sector.”
It added, “This is an urgent issue for our businesses, and it is imperative that Government takes immediate steps to help mitigate the impact of the driver shortages crisis before the Christmas period.”
The cost of freight has risen by 7% as companies are trying to retain drivers plus there are delays at ports meaning supplies are not arriving quickly enough.
The group added, “Drivers and vehicles are increasingly unpredictable in their arrival times, meaning goods are either not ready or are left waiting for collection.
“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. This is distinctly true for supplying goods to Northern Ireland.
“While businesses are doing their best and being as flexible as they can, this loss of certainty and predictability is hugely damaging for their supply chain and ultimately their bottom line, consumers and tax revenue.
“There is only so much businesses can do without having to increase costs for consumers.”
The government are being urged to urgently extend the temporary visa scheme for HGV drivers for one year to “ease the burden on industry and allow for a sufficient increase in domestic drivers.”