Castell Howell depot

Shortages a threat to industry recovery – Castell Howell

Foodservice wholesaler Castell Howell Foods has warned shortages may curtail the industry’s recovery.

In light of transport and supply issues, the Caterforce member has been forced to contact customers to explain the challenges the sector is facing as it re-emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Staffing and availability problems along the supply chain have tempered some of the relief with the gradual easing of lockdown this summer, with the Welsh wholesaler having to make “uncomfortable” decisions.

These include passing on some supply chain price increases to customers and drafting in staff with HGV licences from other parts of the business to help with driver issues.

“Unfortunately, due to the drastic reduction in sales in 2020, our workforce decreased by more than 100 colleagues,” explained Sales Director Kathryn Jones.

“While we now need most to return to the workplace, many have found alternative employment; this is a common theme across the supply chain.

“We’ve been actively advertising and recruiting for several months. However, as highlighted in the press, there are more than 75,000 vacancies across the UK for HGV drivers alone.

“We too are currently short of drivers, especially Class 2 HGV. Driving a multi-drop vehicle for Castell Howell is a very different proposition to driving a limited drop schedule. Consequently, as you can imagine, it has been challenging to fill these vacancies.”

Paired with stock problems caused by manufacturers struggling under the pressure of social-distancing rules, Castell Howell has had to increase volume of orders to mitigate any future shortages.

The award-winning wholesaler has also made changes to its ordering process to improve its own deliveries by introducing earlier cut-off times.

“These changes go against the grain and were extremely difficult decisions to take. However, it is imperative to implement these in order to continue operating under these difficult circumstances whilst still maintaining a high level of service.

“We’re very grateful to our customers for their support, patience and understanding.”

Castell Howell Foods Caterforce coronavirus covid-19 HGV drivers Kathryn Jones shortages suppliers