Supermarket Morrisons has launched a new recruitment programme to train HGV drivers as it admits shortages will increase prices.
Morrisons said it had identified “hundreds” of potential HGV drivers, and it will work with logistics partners to fast-track drivers through Morrisons-funded training to help fill logistics gaps.
The company warned the shortages will cause prices to rise, saying: “We expect some industry-wide retail price inflation during the second half [of the year], driven by sustained recent commodity price increases and freight inflation, and the current shortage of HGV drivers.”
In its half-year results Morrisons reported a 43% decrease in profits year-on-year, to £105m. It said profits were held back by a total of £41m through direct Covid-19 costs, plus a hit of £80m to profits earned through its cafes, fuel and food-to-go services.
It said the company had absorbed cost pressures to sustain lower prices for customers.
Andrew Higginson, chair of Morrisons, said: “Across the business the whole Morrisons team has shown commendable resilience facing into a variety of continuing challenges during the first half, including the ongoing pandemic, disruption at some of our partner suppliers, and the impact on our supply chain of HGV driver shortages.
“As we approach our busiest time of year, I’m confident the team will continue to rise to all challenges and keep up all the good work to improve the shopping trip for customers,” he said.
Estimates suggest the UK is currently facing a shortfall of between 70,000-100,000 HGV drivers.
The government is due to announce changes to HGV testing to speed up the process and increase the pool of UK drivers, according to the BBC.
The UK’s major supermarkets have warned the shortages are causing gaps on shelves and will lead to price hikes this Christmas.
In August Co-op chief executive Steve Murrells warned shortages “are at a worse level than at any time I have seen,” and Iceland managing director Richard Walker stressed it was “vital” supply chain disruptions were sorted to reduce the impact on Christmas.
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