// Iceland currently has vacancies for 100 drivers and has had to cancel 250 store deliveries a week
// To help ease the problem, some of Iceland’s six distribution centres have started using class 2 drivers rather than HGV drivers
Iceland has been forced to cancel 250 store deliveries a week as it is caught up in a national shortage of lorry drivers.
This is a 15 per cent fall in the normal level of deliveries, and is happening because Iceland has vacancies for 100 drivers.
Iceland managing director Richard Walker said: “Nationwide, the UK is currently short of at least 100,000 HGV drivers – the truckers we all rely on to keep us supplied with our food and other daily needs.
“This is due to a combination of factors, including our historic failure to value this essential work correctly, but the largest single challenge is this: while everyone else can clearly see that we have a massive shortage of HGV drivers in the UK, the government refuses to acknowledge the problem and classify them as ‘skilled workers’ for immigration purposes.”
Walker said if the government doesn’t act now the UK will see large gaps on supermarket shelves in the run-up to Christmas this year.
To help ease the problem, some of Iceland’s six distribution centres have started using class 2 drivers rather than HGV drivers.
Class 2 licences allow drivers to handle smaller and more rigid lorries, while class 1 drivers operate larger HGVs.
The driver issue is also affecting Iceland’s suppliers, with Walker saying that every day around 10 per cent of the stock the retailer expects to receive never turns up.
Walker also criticised the “Westminster bubble” for making ballets dancers and classical musicians ‘skilled workers’ for immigration purposes but not lorry drivers.
“I’m a big fan of culture myself, but I can’t help feeling that getting food on our tables really ought to take priority here,” he said.