Wetherspoons, IKEA and the fuel crisis: Who has been affected by supply chain issues?

8 September 2021, 12:41 | Updated: 11 October 2021, 17:05

IKEA and Tim Martin's Wetherspoons have been affected by supply chain issues
IKEA and Tim Martin's Wetherspoons have been affected by supply chain issues. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The fuel crisis that sparked panic buying in England in recent weeks is just the latest in a torrent of issues caused by HGV driver shortages and problems with the supply chain.

Businesses across multiple sectors are suffering due to a shortfall of an estimated 100,000 HGV drivers.

The Confederation of British Industry, which represents 190,000 companies, said recently that a combination of the UK’s departure from the EU and the pandemic had resulted in the crippling shortage of drivers.

Waiters, chefs and construction workers have also been left in short supply, placing further strain on various industries.

This article takes a look at who has been affected:

Fuel crisis

There have been scenes of panic buying of fuel across England in recent weeks, sparked by fears of disruption to supply chain.

For days, long queues developed at petrol stations, with pumps running dry. The army was even brought it to help deliver to petrol stations.

It all began when BP warned the Government it would not be able to fulfil all deliveries due to HGV driver shortages.

This caused a panic and led to a spike in demand, which further exacerbated the supply worries.


Wetherspoons has been hit by beer shortages blamed on a lack of lorry driver and factory staff that has been attributed to Brexit employment rules and the pandemic.

Supplies of Carling and Coors beer were hit, with some pubs not receiving deliveries.

Tim Martin later said the situation down to "industrial action", however Heineken, which supplies the affected lagers, maintained a shortage of hauliers was the cause.

Mr Martin was previously forced to deny reports that his pubs were impacted by Brexit-related staff shortages.


Retail giant Marks & Spencer has announced it will close 11 of its stores in France, saying Brexit has made it "near impossible" to supply fresh food to customers.

The announcement comes just three days after M&S chief Archie Norman hinted at the move in an exclusive interview with LBC.

He told LBC that lorries going to Dublin or France have to carry approximately 720 pages of documentation which takes up to 24 hours to prepare, describing it as a "fandango of bureaucracy".

"Quite simply that means that our fresh sandwiches or ready meals going to Ireland or France are delayed by about a day, and that's not good if you're a sandwich," he added.


McDonald's recently said it had run out of milkshakes and bottled drinks at all its outlets across England, Scotland and Wales.

The spokesperson said: “Like most retailers, we are currently experiencing some supply chain issues, impacting the availability of a small number of products."


Greggs announced at the end of August that it was facing a lack of ingredients for some of its baked products.

The supply issues were mainly impacting chicken products, but other menu items such as corned beef bakes were also affected.

The company said it was struggling with "temporary interruptions" to the supply chain.

The chief executive of the British Poultry Council Richard Griffiths said shortages of workers following Brexit were causing the issues.

Nando's and KFC

Nando’s and KFC outlets were recently been forced to close or change their menus due to a chicken shortage.

Mr Griffiths of the British Poultry Council also attributed these issues to a post-Brexit shortage of workers, and called on the Government to fast-track visas for people coming to work in the industry.


Pan-Asian chain Wagamama has revealed difficulty in hiring chefs across a fifth of its restaurants.

The group's recently appointed chief executive Thomas Heier said he was struggling to fill chef vacancies in around 30 sites.

He said Brexit was impacting the number of European workers looking for jobs in the UK, but also blamed tough competition in the recruitment market as logistics firms are resorting to wage hikes and steep cash bonuses to help plug lorry and delivery driver shortages.


Costa said at the end of August it was struggling with keeping stocks of decaffeinated coffee, among other unspecified items.

The coffee shop chain said on Twitter: "We are facing some supply chain issues just now. We're working hard to resolve this ASAP."


Subway also stated it was facing "minor supply chain shortages" which was affecting fresh produce, but was are working to ensure customers face minimal disruption.

A spokesperson for the sandwich shop said: "We appreciate that supply chain pressure is something a lot of the industry is experiencing at the moment.


Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) recently revealed it was facing a shortage of HGV drivers leading to lack of availability of aluminum cans.

The shortage has had an impact on the company's ability to provide enough canned products to meet demand, although it said was committed to delivering "extremely high service levels".

However social media users have complained about struggling to find canned Diet Coke and Coke Zero products.


Ikea has also been struggling as a result of the shortage of HGV drivers exacerbated by Brexit and Covid.

The furniture giant said all of its 22 stores around the UK and Ireland were having problems with 10% of its stock, or about 1,000 product lines.

It said mattresses were among a number of items affected.


Co-op boss Steve Murrells said food shortages in stores across the country have been "at a worse level than at any time I have seen".

The crisis was a result of "Brexit and issues caused by Covid", he revealed to The Times, with post-Brexit migration rules a particular problem.

Due to ongoing complications with the supply chain, Mr Murrells admitted he had been forced to reduce some ranges sold in Co-op stores.

Tesco, Asda, Iceland

The lorry driver shortage has seen big firms such as Tesco and Asda offering £1,000 starting bonuses for new recruits.

They are not not only major supermarket chains that have been affected, with complaints of empty shelves widespread as a result of the crisis.

Meanwhile the managing director of Iceland, Richard Walker, has warned that the supply chain crisis could “cancel” Christmas.


Kraft Heinz boss Miguel Patricio has warned that some staple household foods would get more expensive because of the HGV driver shortage.

He said the company is "raising prices, where necessary, around the world" for products including ketchup and baked beans.

The executive blamed a lack of lorry drivers in Britain, as well as increased logistic costs in the US and a labour shortage in parts of the economy there.

Christmas supplies

Accolade Wines, which makes Hardys, warned empty shelves and higher prices could hit wine buyers during the festive season.

Chief executive Robert Foye said lorry driver shortages were causing the problems.

Meat bosses also warned pigs in blankets and other festive favourites could be off the menu this Christmas due to a shortage of EU workers.

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), which represents the British meat processing industry, warned treats such as pigs in blankets could be hard to come by because of a lack of skilled staff.

The BMPA has said between 65% and 80% of meat plant workers come from the EU, with the industry "heavily reliant on EU workers for about 15 years."


It was recently warned that farmers may be forced to incinerate nearly 100,000 pigs due to a shortage of butchers and abattoir workers in the wake of Brexit and Covid.

National Pig Association chief executive Zoe Davies said many Eastern European workers have left processing plants and gone home, meaning they unable to process the number of pigs being supplied.

The culling of healthy pigs has now begun on British farms, with at least 600 slaughtered so far.

Flu vaccine

GPs across the UK have faced a delay in flu jab deliveries following the shortage of lorry drivers.

The UK's largest supplier, Seqirus, told GP practices deliveries of jabs would be disrupted due to "unforeseen challenges linked with road freight delays".

GPs across England and Wales were advised to reschedule their appointments following the disruption.

Construction industry

The growth of the UK construction industry has slowed in recent months, with supply chain issues among the issues leaving builders unable to work, crippling projects across the UK.

A shortage of HGV drivers in the UK is causing the delay or cancellation of deliveries of raw materials.

Jewson, one of the country's biggest builders’ merchants, also warned the shortage of materials meant prices of some products will rise by as much as a fifth this month as supplies are rationed.

Bin driver shortage

A number of councils across the UK confirmed they were experiencing disruption to bin collection services last month.

A lack of HGV drivers for bin lorries was partly to blame, the Local Government Association said.

Gritter warning

A potential shortage of gritter drivers could lead to Britain's roads becoming dangerously icy this winter.

The Local Government Association (LGA) warned some local councils may find their gritting services affected in the same way that bin collection services were impacted.

Cllr David Renard, transport spokesperson for the LGA, said: "While most councils have been able to keep services running, some may find that their gritting services are affected in the same way that some have seen waste collection services impacted."


Businesses are struggling to get hold of sewage treatment chemicals due to the lack of lorry drivers caused by Brexit and Covid.

This led the Government to allow them to dump wastewater that would normally need to be cleaned into the sea and rivers.

In a statement, the Environment Agency said: "You may not be able to comply with your permit if you cannot get the chemicals you use to treat the effluent you discharge because of the UK’s new relationship with the EU, coronavirus (COVID-19), [or] other unavoidable supply chain failures.

"If you follow the conditions in this regulatory position statement (RPS) you can discharge effluent without meeting the conditions in your permit."

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