Asda truck


Asda is re-training warehouse staff in an attempt to head off a looming driver shortage.

According to Asda VP for logistics services and supply chain Ian Stansfield, 85% of Asda’s 2,600 drivers are aged 55 or over. “They have good pay, good conditions, good union relations. So our staff don’t leave. But in five to 10 years, I’m going to have a real problem,” he warned.

As a result, Asda has been investing £1m into a new driver recruitment scheme. Stansfield said the supermarket was on track to have transferred 100 warehouse employees over to driving within 12 months.

Asda is also bringing in new employees to drive smaller vehicles with an eye to moving them on to larger lorries. It is also looking at hiring more female drivers, as it only has “a handful”.

Speaking during the Freight Transport Association’s crisis talks about the UK driver shortage this week, Stansfield said the Christmas rush revealed “signs of some challenges”.

“In the North East we had a surplus of drivers, but in the Midlands it was a challenge.”

Stansfield said this had not translated into any service problems, instead claiming Asda’s only issue over Christmas was sales-related, because of the “competitive market”.

The Freight Transport Association estimates there is currently a shortfall of 60,000 drivers in the UK. It said 60% of existing freight drivers were aged 45-65, with funding for training among barriers to younger people joining the industry.

“It’s easy for big businesses to have new driver schemes, but for smaller businesses there needs to be government support,” Stansfield added.