Castell Howell redeploys staff to its transport department

Faced with a shortage of qualified delivery drivers, Castell Howell has temporarily redeployed HGV-qualified staff working in other roles to its transport department. Among them are area sales managers.

HGV-qualified staff working in other roles have been temporarily redeployed to the transport department.

This is just one step that the Carmarthenshire-based wholesaler has taken in an attempt to deal with the significant challenges faced by the industry as it recovers from the COVID crisis.

The company has written to its customers to highlight issues that are causing difficulties. These include shortages of key staff and problems faced by some suppliers, which have resulted in Castell Howell being forced to make some “uncomfortable” decisions and changes to its operation, including having to pass on some supply chain price increases.

The shortage of qualified delivery drivers has hit the business – and many other wholesalers – particularly hard.

Castell Howell sales director Kathryn Jones said: “Unfortunately, due to the drastic reduction in sales in 2020, our workforce decreased by over 100 colleagues. Whilst we now need most to return to the workplace, many have found alternative employment; this is a common theme across the supply chain.

“We have been actively advertising and recruiting for several months. However, as highlighted in the press, there are over 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.”

Stock availability is also an issue, as some suppliers struggle to manufacture under new social distancing rules. Delivery to Castell Howell from suppliers is also being affected by the UK-wide shortage of haulage drivers.

Jones said: “To build up buffer stocks, we are increasing our volume of orders, especially for commodity lines. We aim to mitigate future stock shortages the best we can. We are constantly seeking substitute products from manufacturers who have the capacity to deliver. However, this is becoming increasingly difficult.”

Castell Howell has made changes to its ordering process to improve its own deliveries, with earlier cut-off times. “These changes go against the grain and were extremely difficult decisions to take,” said Jones. “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 are very grateful to our customers for their support, patience and understanding.”

For Castell Howell, the difficulties arising from the pandemic were exacerbated by the loss of business with SA Brain & Co. This loss occurred following the Welsh company’s deal with brewery giant Marston’s to operate SA Brains pubs from January 2021.

Before that date, Castell Howell had been the sole supplier to SA Brain since 2008, including supplying 80 of the Welsh brewery’s managed public houses.

Jones concluded: “Despite the challenges in the supply chain and deliveries, we remain optimistic that the sector in the UK will work together to navigate through these unprecedented times and have a successful summer.”

Tel: Castell Howell Foods (01269) 846080

Published Date: June 15, 2021
Category: Wholesale Industry News