Hardy’s and Echo Falls owner warns of wine shortages

6 September 2021

Accolade, the UK’s largest wine firm, has warned there could be wine shortages and price hikes this Christmas because labour shortages are threatening supplies. 

The company, which owns Hardys, Echo Falls, Kumala, Banrock Station and Stowells, said the industry had been hit by staff and HGV driver shortages. 

Accolade is the fifth largest wine firm in the world, delivering around 35m cases of wine to 143 countries each year.

Richard Foye, chief executive at Accolade Wines, told the BBC: "These shortages, if they continue, could definitely impact Christmas. We are trying to get ahead of it, but it does depend on the situation for the entire transport and trucking industry in the UK."

Foye said while the company is working closely with suppliers, price increases are inevitable.

"The only way we can mitigate this is if we work very closely with our trucking and transport suppliers and our customers. We have done some of that and are managing well so far, but ultimately costs will go up.

"Staff shortages are definitely there and there's a whole new group of employees that need to be trained, from truck drivers to restaurant staff," Foye continued.

Meanwhile, Ikea has announced it is facing difficulties delivering around 10% of its stock, representing around 1,000 product lines.

Products including mattresses are running short across all of its 22 UK stores. 

An Ikea spokesperson said: "Like many retailers, we are experiencing ongoing challenges with our supply chains due to Covid-19 and labour shortages, with transport, raw materials and sourcing all impacted. In addition, we are seeing higher customer demand as more people are spending more time at home.

"What we are seeing is a perfect storm of issues, including the disruption of global trade flows and a shortage of drivers, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic and Brexit.”

An estimated shortfall of 100,000 HGV drivers is creating shortages across industries. Logistics UK says 25,000 EU workers were forced to return to their home countries following Brexit while the pandemic delayed driving tests. 

The government previously insisted companies need to utilise UK workers to tackle the shortages, rather than relying on oversea workers to fill the gaps. 

However, the CBI has warned labour shortages could last two years.

Tony Danker, CBI director general, called the government’s refusal to grant EU workers temporary visas to work in the unfilled positions “self-defeating”. 

He said: “Standing firm and waiting for shortages to solve themselves is not the way to run an economy. We need to simultaneously address short-term economic needs and long-term economic reform.

“Building a more innovative economy – coupled with better training and education – can sustainably improve business performance, wages and living standards. But transformation on this scale requires planning and takes time.

“The government’s ambition that the UK economy should become more high-skilled and productive is right. But implying that this can be achieved overnight is simply wrong. And a refusal to deploy temporary and targeted interventions to enable economic recovery is self-defeating.”

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