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Beer shortages at Wetherspoon as Brexit and Covid hit supply chains

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JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin was a vocal supporter of Brexit  (PA)
JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin was a vocal supporter of Brexit (PA)

Brexit-backing Wetherspoon has become the latest business to be hit by supply chain issues as the pub giant faces shortages of popular beer brands.

Carling and Coors are unavailable in some branches as supermarkets, pubs and restaurants continue to be plagued by supply problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a lack of lorry drivers in the wake of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Fast-food franchise McDonald’s ran out of milkshakes and bottled drinks in outlets across England, Scotland and Wales last week, while coffee chain Costa has seen supplies of panini and decaffeinated coffee beans affected.

Other big names including Greggs, Nando’s, KFC, Co-op and Iceland have also been hit by supply issues.

Britain’s departure from the European Union has contributed to a massive fall in the number of lorry drivers available to move goods, as have rising wages in their home countries, according to the boss of Tesco.

JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin was a vocal supporter of Brexit, and his pubs promoted the idea of the UK leaving the EU to drinkers during the referendum campaign.

Images shared on social media showed notices apparently put up in one Wetherspoon pub this week warning customers of a shortage of certain beers.

Graham Hughes shared a photo on Twitter of a sign that said: “We regret to inform you that we are out of stock of Carling, Coors and Bud Light.

“Due to supply issues regards to lack of lorry drivers and strike action which are out of our control [sic].”

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JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon confirmed the chain was experiencing supply issues.

He said in a statement: “We are experiencing some supply problems with both Carling and Coors, which means that some pubs do not have the products available.

“We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused.

“We know that the brewers are trying to resolve the issue.”

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has estimated that up to 20,000 HGV drivers from the EU left during the Brexit process – adding to a crisis which has left the country short of around 100,000 lorry drivers overall.

Reports suggest the “pingdemic” caused by coronavirus self-isolation requirements has also been a factor, while McDonald’s and others have been hit by a shortfall in manufacturing workers.

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