The high street giant is throwing money at the issue to make sure shoppers don’t suffer shortfalls during the festive period, as lorry driver shortfalls threaten deliveries elsewhere
John Lewis will be hiring out a fleet of ships to make sure it has enough stock to sell at Christmas, its boss has admitted.
John Lewis chair Sharon White said the business was doing everything it could to make sure the festive period was not disrupted.
White told the BBC the firm had also recently increased the wages for its lorry drivers to help with staffing shortfalls.
“We’re acting hard and we’re acting fast to make sure we can still deliver a fantastic sparkly Christmas to our customers,” White said.
“We’re acting at every single part in the supply chain to ensure that Christmas is saved this year.
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“Our customers hopefully won’t see anything, we’re on track. But so far, we don’t see any significant problems.”
John Lewis, which owns Waitrose, made a pre-tax loss of £29million for the six months to July 31 – still an improvement on the £635million loss it made in the same period last year.
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However, sales for the group rose by 6% in the first half of this year, helped by strong demand for homeware and online grocery sales for Waitrose.
Earlier this week John Lewis and Waitrose announced they would hire 7,000 extra members of temporary staff this Christmas to help with the festive rush of shoppers.
The roles will be available across all 34 John Lewis shops, where 2,300 people will be hired, and 331 Waitrose stores, where the company is looking to take on 4,700 people.
In the John Lewis sites, temporary roles will include sales and merchandising positions, while Waitrose stores will be looking for supermarket assistants, night shift workers and customer delivery drivers.
In addition, John Lewis and Waitrose will recruit more than 550 permanent full-time driver and warehouse roles across distribution and delivery centres.
As an added incentive, both retailers say they will offer free food and drinks to workers – including temporary staff – from October 4 to December 31.
The roles will be put online in phases into October, with a “variety of working hours” available.
The John Lewis Partnership says the recruitment drive is an increase of 2,000 compared to the 5,000 seasonal workers it employed last Christmas.
Nikki Humphrey, people director at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “We know that as the first Christmas after lockdown, customers will want to make it really special and we’re throwing everything we can into helping them celebrate – our festive team will have a crucial role to play.
“We’re looking for people who can deliver extraordinary service to help customers get what they need to celebrate.
“We look forward to welcoming people into our team across the country.”
He said: “Nationwide, the UK is currently short of at least 100,000 HGV drivers – the truckers we all rely on to keep us supplied with our food and other daily needs.”
Turkeys and pig in blankets are just some of the Christmas staples that may be in short supply this year.
The lack of drivers has seen supermarket shelves stripped bare, while restaurant chains like McDonald’s and KFC have been forced to take some items off the menu.