Supply chain issues ‘here to stay for foreseeable future’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Industry issue: disruption in the supply chain has been hitting pubs across the nation (image: Getty/Justin Paget)
Industry issue: disruption in the supply chain has been hitting pubs across the nation (image: Getty/Justin Paget)

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Disruption to the supply chain is an issue that doesn’t seem to be going away, one operator has predicted.

Issues with HGV drivers, the strain of the impact from Covid-19 and Brexit have all previously been cited as reasons why companies are struggling to deliver products to businesses.

Licensee of the Unruly Pig in Bromeswell, Suffolk Brendan Padfield has highlighted how his operation has been forced to adapt as a result of supply delays and predicted the problems aren't showing any signs of disappearing soon.

He said: “I don’t see any reason to think supply will have improved [by Christmas]. The same problems that we are all encountering are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

“The Government hasn’t been able to make up for the Brexit labour shortages, they are still there. “The 5,000 emergency visas, they got eight of them.

“I don’t see the supply issues going away however, are we taking our best steps to mitigate them as far as we can? Yes.”

Mitigation measures

Changing ingredients on menus and ordering well in advance are two ways in which the pub is trying to mitigate issues.

Padfield added: “Have we put turkey on the Christmas menu? Of course we have because demand means price is going to be sky high, Dave [Wall, chef/patron of the Unruly Pig] won’t serve anything other than fresh.

“We’ve got a grill that uses briquettes. Our supplier of briquettes sent back half the money they invoiced us for because they can’t supply us with what we ordered going forward and we only got 50% because then they can share it around.

“We are now into a new norm, you can’t order things over night anymore, mean you get about 80%. “Laundry you get what you’re given. I don’t see supply issues abating because it depends on delivery drivers appearing and they haven’t and won’t. it’s also dependent on supplies getting a supply of labour that doesn’t exist.”

“We would normally order turkeys [for Christmas] by 1 December. The usual 10.30am ring around to order food, that’s all gone. You have to do a week before and you get about 80%.”

“We’ve adapted, Dave has got lighter in his feet. He had to change garnish on lobster dish three times because we couldn’t get ingredients. Mitigating by thinking ahead, being nimble on our feet, chopping and changing menu and anticipating price changes.”

Questionable demand

Looking ahead, there are glimmers the festive period will mean a strong trade however, Padfield was nervous about Government warnings over a slow rate of booster vaccinations and a potential lack of caution from the public.

He referred to Van-Tam urging for face masks to continue to be worn in pubs and restaurants during a joint broadcast on BBC Breakfast ​and Radio5Live ​last week (3 November).

Padfield said: “Demand is good but it’s questionable because of the obvious. Professor Van-Tam (England’s deputy chief medical officer) said we have got to be really careful ad if you’d not this is going to take off. The boosters aren’t getting out enough. He said he advises people to wear face masks in pubs now.”

“Demand should be good all things being equal but the warnings from Van-Tam and the specific endorsement of the need to wear masks and maintain social distancing otherwise we are going to have problems. We are at a cross roads and the next four weeks should be a seminal influence.

“There are too many imponderables and uncertainties at the moment to be sure it is going to be a bumper Christmas. The demand will be there but the issue is in the next four to six weeks will be the infection and death rates be controlled by vaccination boosters and people exercising care or is it because of the ambivalence of Government.

“If the booster programme goes well and people exercise [wearing] masks and social distancing then we should be good and demand will be good. There’s an element of uncertainty but so far demand is good. Demand is holding up in our market.”

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