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british retail consortium

Action demanded on UK’s LGV driver shortage

Two of the UK’s biggest business groups, Logistics UK and British Retail Consortium (BRC) have written to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to outline key three steps the government can take to overcome the national HGV driver shortage problem and protect the supply chain.

According to the groups, which together represent more than 23,000 members nationwide, the crisis is anticipated to worsen in the coming months as demand for goods increases with the new school year starting, businesses returning to their workplaces post-Covid-19 restrictions, and the build-up to Christmas beginning – traditionally the peak time for logistics movements.

Writing to Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, the Secretary of State at BEIS, David Wells, the Chief Executive of Logistics UK, explained that retail and logistics industries are taking proactive measures to address the driver shortage challenge – including increasing pay rates, offering bonuses, and implementing internal training schemes – but the government must take immediate action to support supply chains:

“The current shortfall of around 90,000 HGV drivers is placing unsustainable pressure on retailers and their supply chains. While there was a shortage of HGV drivers prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, these two events have exacerbated the situation; the pandemic halted driver training and testing for more than 12 months, while an estimated 25,000 EU drivers returned home during the pandemic and following the end of the transition period.

“Logistics UK and BRC are urging the government to adopt three policies immediately. First, to increase DVSA’s testing capacity permanently so the agency is able to process the backlog of driver tests placed on hold during the pandemic – this has left thousands of aspiring HGV drivers unable to join the workforce. The government should also review its decision not to grant temporary work visas to HGV drivers from the EU, as such drivers could supplement the domestic HGV workforce in the short-term, while the testing backlog is cleared, and new drivers are trained and become qualified. Third, industry needs government to ensure its skills and training schemes support the recruitment of HGV drivers, by reforming the National Skills Fund to fund HGV driver training and injecting flexibility into the Apprenticeship Levy.”

Writing with Helen Dickenson OBE, the BRC’s Chief Executive, Wells added: “Logistics UK and BRC need BEIS to work with us to ensure the government provides a clear road map and tangible support for industry to ensure that our stores can continue to provide what the country needs every day.”

BRC seeks to reduce unnecessary retail waste

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Company Shop Group have joined forces to help reduce unnecessary waste in the retail industry.

The Company Shop Group, a redistributor of surplus food and products, has also been confirmed as the BRC’s official Sustainability Partner for the year ahead.

It will be working closely with the BRC, engaging with BRC members through various digital resources and events ‘to help educate, inspire and change mindsets across the industry’ when it comes to sustainably handling surplus stock and reducing unnecessary waste.

The partnership comes at a critical time, as the country enters a third national lockdown which will create ongoing high levels volatility within the supply chain as a result of retail and hospitality closures, likely leading to an additional increase in surplus stock.

To support the industry’s recovery from the pandemic, the BRC and Company Shop Group are encouraging retailers and businesses to ensure they are unlocking all value from stock and operating as sustainably as possible. The Group’s distribution network enables it to provide ready-made solutions to help retailers to minimise unnecessary waste, extract maximum value from surplus and ensure all products reach the end consumer, as intended.

The Group works with all the major retailers, manufacturers and brands to stop good food and products from needlessly going to waste. By purchasing surplus stock from the FMCG supply chain and redistributing it across its network of 17 membership-only stores at heavily discounted prices, Company Shop says it alsoprovides a financial return to its industry partners, whilst generating positive social and environmental benefits.

The latest partnership between the BRC and Company Shop Group reflects both parties’ long-standing relationship and is another step on the road towards building a more sustainable retail industry, with the reduction of unnecessary food and product waste and greater industry collaboration key.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The BRC and Company Shop are at the forefront of driving a greener, more sustainable retail economy. This new partnership creates a powerful collaboration supporting the industry to embed more sustainable practices across its supply chains. As we begin to look at how we might recover from the coronavirus crisis there has never been a better opportunity to rebuild a more sustainable industry.

“We look forward to continuing the work already underway and hope that this partnership will give BRC members the insight and opportunities to make the progress needed to reduce food and product waste.”

Jane Marren, Managing Director of Company Shop Group, said: “We have long worked closely with the British Retail Consortium and its members to help tackle unnecessary waste and to champion sustainable business practices which protect the environment, support businesses stability and maximise positive social impact.”

“It is essential that businesses use surplus management and redistribution as an asset for themselves, for the planet and for communities everywhere. Fluctuations in the supply chain are likely to be greater than ever this year, especially with another national lockdown, but we can help – if stock can be eaten, used or worn, then we can take it.

“This partnership with the BRC is fitting for our collective and ongoing sustainability work, and we very much look forward to continuing to work closely together as we support the industry and our retail partners to achieve their ambitious goals.”