Major wholesalers are reportedly capping bottled-water orders for retailers nationwide in a bid to protect against ongoing supply shortages.
According to several independent retailers, the wholesalers concerned include Nisa, Booker and Parfetts, and products from Evian, Volvic and Highland Spring and Buxton have been affected.
Londis retailer Alan Mannings, and owner of Shop on the Green in Canterbury, told betterRetailing he is experiencing caps with Booker. He said: “I’m lucky I have another wholesaler I can use around 15 minutes away. I hate spaces on shelves, and I’m not even thinking about extra fuel costs.
“If you can’t get hold of something, you have to source it from elsewhere.”
Amrit Singh Pahal, of H & Jodie’s Nisa in Walsall, West Midlands, added: “I have around five wholesalers, but Nisa is my main supplier. Water is definitely being capped, but, so far, I haven’t had a problem with too much stock. It’s the retailers in remote areas who suffer the most because it’s harder for them to source elsewhere.”
Nisa retailer Sid Ali explained how he is using Costco to avoid caps. “As long as there’s availability, you can take whatever you want,” he said. “I’m lucky I have an EPoS system that scans across several wholesalers and creates different baskets for different suppliers.
“It works out where prices are cheapest and where’s there’s availability, which saves me a lot of time.”
In response to what is driving the shortage of bottled water, a spokesperson from the Natural Source Waters Association told betterRetailing: “Natural-source water sales bounced back strongly post-lockdown. This, combined with lower-than-normal stock levels at the start of summer, supply-chain challenges and labour shortages, has left the overall distribution network overstretched and struggling to meet demand.
“This meant that, as the hot-weather surge in sales occurred, it was not possible for this increased demand to be met.
“Delivering for grocery, wholesale and convenience customers is a top priority for our members, who are working tirelessly with distributors, wholesalers and retailers to resolve this and get their products on shelf during what has been a demanding period for the category.”
Parfetts’ head of marketing, James Ferguson, confirmed that due to “recent manufacturing shortages, customers are limited to six-to-eight cases of mineral water, depending on local demand around each depot”, but expects this to “end over the coming weeks”.
A spokesperson for Nisa added: “We continue to work closely with our suppliers to mitigate the global supply issues facing the sector, but in some instances capping may need considering.
“We appreciate the disruption this can cause and we are issuing frequent communications, substitutions and alternative products to our customers where possible.”
Booker failed to provide a response by the time our sister title RN went to press.
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