The head of Britain’s largest wine retailer has insisted his company’s “shelves will remain full” this Christmas, despite supply chain problems affecting the alcohol sector.
Majestic Wines CEO John Cooley said the company planned months in advance and had 20 percent more stock than it did last year, including 1.8 million bottles of wine in its warehouse.
His comments contrast starkly with a letter published yesterday by the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) and co-signed by dozens of companies, which warned that the country could face alcohol shortages during the holiday season.
Majestic Wine CEO says his company’s “shelves will remain full” at Christmas despite supply chain problems affecting the alcohol sector
The letter warned that unless the HGV driver crisis and disruptions in the shipping industry are adequately addressed, some signs may disappear from supermarket shelves, and businesses will lose significant business.
It urged the UK government to extend the system of temporary visas received for truck drivers to at least one year, improve shipping routes from ports, and provide regular updates on processing heavy vehicle and driver’s licensing tests.
Majestic Wine was not one of the signatories to the letter, and has largely bypassed the problems affecting the alcohol sector, although it warned earlier this year that it was having trouble arriving in shipping from Europe.
“This Christmas may be the year we’re seeing other areas emerge in the face of shortages in certain areas,” Cooley said.
“For example, we expect record sales in South Africa and sparkling English – rather than New Zealand and champagne respectively.
“With the additional inventory we bring in and a focus on intuitive sourcing from up and coming areas, we’re confident this will mean, at Majestic at least, that our shelves will remain full.”
A letter from the Wine and Spirits Trade Association warned that the UK could face an alcohol shortage this Christmas, unless the government tackles the shortage of heavy truck drivers.
His comments came on the same day the British potato chip shortage showed signs of abating, according to a survey conducted by global research group Kantar Public on behalf of the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
One-fifth of stores said they had a reduced supply of multiple packs of potato chips, compared to 30 percent in the previous week — even though 4 percent of stores revealed they had no stock at all.
The origin of the scarcity is due to the famous Walkers snacks company reducing production at its factory in Leicester, following technical issues arising from the upgrade of the site’s IT system.
Although the IT problem was eventually resolved, the problem resulted in reduced availability of consumer favorites such as Monster Munch, Quavers, and Wotsits, and in some cases, supermarket shelves were nearly empty of chips.
Supply issues: One-fifth of shops said they had a reduced supply of multiple packs of potato chips, compared to 30 percent in the previous week according to the Office for National Statistics.
Many stores also reported that they were affected by a shortage of painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol, as well as fresh pork and frozen turkey, while some stores reported a shortage of beer, fresh fruit and toothpaste.
Supply chain problems have been common in Britain and elsewhere as companies adjust to shifts in consumer demand, as well as the availability of workers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and, in Britain’s case, Brexit.
The Office for National Statistics said 14 percent of companies surveyed reported a labor shortage in late November, a level similar to the previous month.
This rose to 38 per cent in the accommodation and food service sectors, which has laid off many employees during the pandemic and previously relied heavily on EU workers.
The Bank of England is looking closely at the labor market for signs of wage pressures – or, conversely, higher unemployment after the end of rent support on October 1 – as it considers whether to raise interest rates on December 16.
Previous official data showed 1.17 million vacant jobs recorded in the three months to the end of October.
Thursday’s data showed that the volume of online job ads was 44 percent higher than the pre-pandemic level, the same level the week prior, while consumer spending on credit and debit cards was 3 percent higher than it was before the pandemic, on a basis non-seasonal; rate basis.
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