Dave Lewis court

Tesco said there would be little it could do to stop disruption to fresh suppliers

Tesco has held  meetings with its suppliers to develop a stockpiling strategy ahead of a possible no-deal Brexit.

CEO Dave Lewis told The Grocer this week the company had held talks across its entire supply chain, ahead of next week’s vote in the House of Commons on prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Lewis said Tesco wanted to do what it could with suppliers to minimise disruption, although he warned there would be little it could do to stop disruption to fresh food suppliers.

“There are definitely some opportunities [for stockpiling], in partnership with our suppliers,” Lewis said.

“Where we see opportunities to increase stockholding we will do so. We have worked with all our suppliers to look at what their capacity is, how much stock they have, if they should hold it or whether we should hold it. We’ve been through every single category.”

Read more: Stockpiling suppliers run ‘huge’ insurance risk, say brokers

Lewis’ comments come days after the Department of Transport and Kent police held a trial run with hundreds of lorries to create a holding area to prevent Dover descending into chaos if politicians aren’t able to agree a deal.

In November The Grocer revealed supermarkets, including Tesco, had hundreds of thousands of sq ft of warehousing space standing empty to cope with possible Brexit chaos, whilst suppliers faced a crisis with much of the UK’s warehouse space full.

But Lewis stressed despite the bid to collaborate with its supply chain on contingency plans, there was little Tesco could do about the fundamental problem of delays to short shelf-life fresh food, in the event of no-deal.

“The key thing is that it’s not possible to do this for fresh food,” he said.

The details of Tesco’s stockpiling plans came as the retailer announced today it had “outperformed” the UK market over Christmas, with a 2.6% like-for-like increase in sales over the six weeks to 5 January.

Sales in the core Tesco UK business grew by 0.7% in the third quarter, a 12th consecutive quarter of growth, although Lewis said the figures had been hit by a “more challenging market”.

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