Driver shortage forces merchants to collect from suppliers


The grave shortage of lorry drivers is forcing suppliers to tell builders merchants to come and collect their own supplies from works.

Haulage and the lack of availability of drivers is now a serious concern with regional distribution being hit.

Firms are now finding challenges arranging deliveries to Scotland and the South West of England.

A report from a joint working group between suppliers and distributors warned because the problem was not limited to construction, and with similar haulage issues affecting a wider distribution network there was no chance of a short-term fix.

John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation and Peter Caplehorn, CEO of the Construction Products Association, co-chairs of the Construction Leadership Council’s Product Availability working group, said some suppliers were now asking builders merchants to collect their orders as they could not get enough drivers to complete deliveries.

The Department for Transport is now engaged with the freight sector and hauliers to look at both interim and longer-term solutions, which would require collaboration between government and the sector.

Overall, the materials supply situation showed signs of a temporary easing this month, due to a combination of the holiday period and some domestic customers delaying or cancelling projects due to higher costs or cost uncertainty.

Timber, cement, roofing products, bricks, blocks, insulation, steel and cable management systems remain the products in shortest supply, while global shortages of semi-conductors are a cause for concern in the lighting and appliance sectors.

Although product and material price inflation has slowed, the joint working party warned it would be 2022 before prices stabilise, with some manufacturers still to implement double-digit price increases to recover current and future cost inflation.

Source: Construction Enquirer

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