Wednesday, October 27

UK Retailer Iceland Warns of Higher Prices as Supply-Chain Crisis Hits

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By Deirdre Hipwell and William Mathis

(Bloomberg) —

The boss of Iceland Foods warned of rising prices as Britain’s energy and labor crisis deepens, with the frozen food retailer facing more than 40 million pounds ($54 million) of extra costs next year.

Managing Director Richard Walker said the company’s electricity bill will be 20 million pounds higher next year, while wages have already risen by 12 million pounds amid a shortage of truckers. Iceland is also spending an extra 10 million pounds on environmentally friendly packaging, which leaves the frozen food chain and the wider economy facing a series of “short, sharp shocks,” he said.

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“We’re not an endless sponge that can absorb all of these different cost increases,” Walker said in an interview with BBC’s Today program. “Unfortunately price rises are inevitable.”

British businesses are under increasing strain as labor shortages following Brexit are compounded by high shipping costs, shortages of carbon dioxide and soaring gas prices. The combination of these prices shocks was particularly difficult to handle, said Walker, adding that the rhetoric from Prime Minister Boris Johnson was unhelpful. The UK leader has attributed labor shortages to years of under-investment in skills by companies that have been able to “mainline low-wage, low-cost immigration.”

“The problem is no one is taking a step back and looking at the cumulative impact of all these issues or their effect on business,” Walker said.

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