Edwin C Farrall said it endured one of the worst driver shortages the UK supply chain had experienced last year and it struggled to compete with the high rates implemented by supermarkets.

The Deeside haulier, which is involved in contract distribution, general haulage and pallet network operations, said Covid-19, the introduction of IR35, Brexit and older drivers retiring from the industry all conspired to make 2021 a challenging year: “Ourselves, like many others, were negatively affected by the driver shortage and we had to react quickly in order to manage the higher volumes customers were requiring to be delivered,” it said.

“The driver shortage was a UK-wide issue and resulted in many supermarkets increasing driver pay dramatically and implementing high signing-on bonuses.

“We were unable to reach the rates of pay some were offering and as a result we did unfortunately lose some drivers but were able to increase to a sustainable rate.

“This however meant we had to be forceful in pushing customer price increases to ensure we would cover the wages now required.

“In this period, the team had to react to a high turnover of drivers, which meant the highest use of agency drivers we have ever had in the company.”

The haulier added: “Going into 2022, the situation has calmed and we are now at a steadier level allowing us to achieve consistent service levels.”

The comments came in the company’s latest financial results for the year ending 31 December 2021.

They showed that despite the challenging trading environment, Edwin C Farrall increased turnover by 18.3% to £12.5m and pre-tax profits grew from just £38,000 in 2020 to £227,000 last year.

“As with 2021, we are looking to continue building on the financial stability of the group and to instigate growth in a sustainable structure,” it added.

“Further challenges have hit in 2022 which include global cost increases and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which have again set for a very reactive and demanding year.”