Morrisons suspends wholesale supply to independents over driver shortage

A general view of a Morrisons supermarket on May 06, 2020 in Bradford, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Morrisons confirmed that it has stopped wholesale supplies to independent retailers following the shortage of delivery drivers.

“Due to the national driver shortage, we’re prioritising our contracted customers and have temporarily suspended sales for a very small number – fewer than ten – of our ad-hoc customers,” a spokesperson said. “We’re working hard with our partners to resolve this as soon as we can.”

“This doesn’t affect any of our other services to food banks, charities, local authorities and wholesalers, as well as contracted wholesale customers,” the supermarket group added.

Several wholesalers have been facing disruption to their deliveries as the driver shortage has assumed “catastrophic proportions” following Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) has urged the government for a temporary extension of drivers’ hours, similar to the one put in place last year when retailers were facing shortages.

“The driver shortage has reached crisis point for some of our members and we believe it is likely to get worse as more hospitality venues open and demand increases,” said James Bielby, FWD chief executive.

“With the estimated 70,000 shortfall in HGV drivers, some wholesalers have had to limit the number of deliveries they make to convenience stores which has led to some availability issues.”

FWD will be meeting ministers this week to discuss options, which include even having army drivers on standby to ensure uninterrupted food distribution.