Staffing and supply chain issues continue

HGV driver shortage impacts as hospitality sector seeks to rebuild

STAFF shortages and supply chain issues are continuing to affect hospitality businesses across Scotland as the sector attempts to rebuild in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions.

Operators and trade groups say the combined effects of Brexit and the pandemic have led to a “staffing crisis” across the hospitality industry and its supply chain, which they say is hampering the sector’s recovery.

The Road Haulage Association, which said there is a shortage of more than 100,000 HGV drivers, last week reiterated its earlier calls for drivers to be added to the Home Office Shortage Occupation List to help ease pressure on the UK supply chain.

The Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA) echoed that, saying “at the very least a temporary visa system [should be] put in place with immediate effect”; it said the driver shortage is being “felt particularly hard in Scotland”.

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), said supply chain issues and staff shortages have created a “perfect storm” as hospitality businesses have reopened.

And UK Hospitality said that while customers have returned to hospitality venues more quickly than after last summer’s reopening, the industry “remains in a fragile state with businesses fighting for survival on a number of fronts, not least the critical shortage of staff”; it said there is currently a 10% vacancy rate in the UK hospitality sector – equivalent to 210,000 roles.

Graham Chalmers of Radisson RED hotel in Glasgow, which launched the Be Kind To Hospitality campaign, said the industry is facing a “crippling crisis”.

“The staff shortage is becoming impossible to navigate, it is as simple as that,” he said.

“So many businesses are suffering badly at the hands of the so-called pingdemic, with numerous staff isolating each week. On top of that there is the seemingly forgotten issue of Brexit, with so many seasonal workers or students simply not here.

“Brexit also has had a huge impact on deliveries and stock. People everywhere are struggling to get hold of essential products.”

Graham Suttle of Kained, whose outlets include Rogue St Andrews and The Finnieston in Glasgow, said the industry is facing a number of challenges.

“With massive staff shortages, product shortages, massive logistic issues and in general continued restrictions on how we operate, the pressure on our teams is greater than ever,” he said.

“We need to ask once again for our amazing customers to step up and help us transition through this period by simply being kind.”