Wetherspoons apologises after beer hit by supply chain issues

The pub chain confirmed that some branches failed to receive deliveries of Carling and Coors.

Wetherspoon pub
Wetherspoon pub

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has apologised to customers after its beer supplies became the latest casualty of the UK’s supply chain crunch.

The hospitality giant confirmed that it has seen supplies of Carling and Coors beer hit by the disruption, with some pubs not receiving deliveries.

Molson Coors, the brewer for both brands, said it has been “hit by the HGV driver shortage”, affecting its supply to some UK pubs.

Lorry driver and factory staff shortages attributed to Brexit employment rules and the pandemic have impacted supplies at rival firms including McDonald’s, Nando’s and KFC in recent weeks.

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We are experiencing some supply problems with both Carling and Coors, which means that some pubs do not have the products available.

“We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused. We know that the brewers are trying to resolve the issue.”

Tim Martin announces Wetherspoon results
Founder and chairman of JD Wetherspoon Tim Martin (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

In a later statement, Mr Gershon added that stocks of Carling and Coors had been depleted when customers bought more after industrial action impacted deliveries from Heineken, the pub group’s biggest supplier.

“Heineken supply six of the 23 draught lines we normally offer,” he said.

“As a result of a shortage of deliveries of Heineken, some other products ran out in some locations – for example Carling and Coors lagers.

“We understand that the industrial action we refer to has now been called off which, we hope, means that the supply issues will be resolved in early course.

“As of today, the majority of pubs, we believe, are now fully stocked, but some pubs may be short of a few brands, pending deliveries in the next few days.”

Draymen at GXO Logistics, which distributes Heineken products, called off industrial action last month after an improved pay offer.

A spokesman for Molson Coors Beverage Company said: “Like many in our great British brewing and pub sector we have been hit by the HGV driver shortage.

“While overall our availability is good, there are intermittent pockets of pressure in our supply network that are unfortunately affecting a number of Wetherspoons pubs.

“We’re working around the clock with our customers and third-party logistics partners to ensure we minimise any impact to our customers.

“After such a difficult period for our industry, it’s heart-breaking to be letting any customer down and we will continue to do everything in our power to get our much-loved brands back on every Wetherspoons bar.”

It came as distribution firms sought to increase wages or offer incentives to new drivers amid a significant shortage across the food and drink supply chain.

Bosses at the Road Haulage Association warned last week that there is a shortfall of around 100,000 drivers.

It said this has been driven by thousands of European drivers leaving during the pandemic and not returning, and called on the Government to add drivers to the Shortage Occupation List to make it easier for overseas workers to address the shortfall.

Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin has been a passionate supporter of Brexit and earlier this year denied reports that his pubs were impacted by Brexit-related staff shortages.

Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow business secretary called for a “proper plan” to address the shortage.

He said: “Government ministers can pretend that there aren’t real issues in our supply chain, but it won’t wash. They need a proper plan which addresses the problems, particularly in the HGV sector. Burying their heads in the sand has gone on long enough. It’s time they got a grip.

“This disruption was foreseeable, and it won’t disappear without action. Rather than blaming business, Government should work with them to address the gaps sector by sector. It’s what any responsible Government would do and it is essential to protect the recovery.”

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