HGV driver shortage: Some supply chain issues expected to return in 2022

Magnus Group

The head of transport at Magnus Group did recruit a few new drivers at the end of last year - Credit: Magnus Group

While supply chain issues appear to have resolved themselves, a Suffolk logistics director hasn't ruled out the problems returning this year.

Packets of crisps, petrol and PlayStation 5s were some of the items that were out of stock across the UK in the past 12 months - in part due to a national shortage of HGV drivers.

In 2021 there was a large recruitment drive for lorry drivers, which saw the government send a letter to a million HGV driving licence holders and companies raise salaries and offer lucrative joining bonuses.

Magnus Group

Martin Gomersall, head of transport at Magnus Group - Credit: Mark Coventry. www.markcoventry.

Martin Gomersall, head of transport and director at Magnus Group in Great Blakenham, admits it is hard to make the logistics industry look "glamourous" but that the situation has improved a bit thanks to action last year.

Currently the company has been training several of their own drivers, with a few of them being completely new to driving a lorry.

"I think as the money's gone up, it's certainly got some of the young people interested," said Mr Gomersall.

He added: "How do you make an industry like transport look glamorous.

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"They can operate a computer and earn 30 to 40 grand a year or they can drive a truck and earn 30 to 40 grand a year and work 15 hours a day to do it and be away from home."

Magnus Group

Some of the lorries driven by Magnus Group - Credit: Magnus Group

There are still some fundamental issues in the industry that need to be resolved, particularly the facilities available to drivers, which is an "unattractive" part of the business.

January and February is a quieter time for the industry which is why there aren't any signs of supply chains issues currently.

Staff are back from holidays and there is slightly less demand, but come Easter there may be a possibility of some delays as demand increases and staff take time off.

Elsewhere in the supply chain, warehouses are struggling for good quality forklift drivers, while shipping container transporters are "pretty much flat out" already.

Mr Gomersall said: "I don't think it'll be like it was last year in terms of there won't be the product on the shelves.

"I think it will be a lot better due to the fact the obviously the Covid thing is kind of going away.

"But I would certainly expect some supply chains at some point to have disruption.

"Customers may have to choose different items, if they normally use a branded toilet roll for example they might have to use the shop's own brand."