A WORCESTER wine merchant has assured the city it won’t run dry this Christmas amid warnings of a festive booze shortage.

Richard Everton of the Bottles Group was responding to a letter sent by The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WTSA) to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

The statement, signed by 48 major alcohol importers, called on the minister to take urgent action over HGV driver shortages and freight disruption.

They warned that failure to act could see “some of our favourite tipples disappearing from the UK supermarket shelves”.

Mike Beale, chief executive of the WSTA said: “There is mounting concern among our membership that unless urgent action is taken, we will fall deeper into delivery chaos.

“We are already seeing major delays on wine and spirit delivery times which is pushing up costs and limiting the range of products available to UK consumers.

“Government needs to be doing all it can to ensure British business is not operating with one hand tied behind its back over the festive season and beyond.”

Mr Everton said that while some specific supply lines may be affected, there would always be alternatives available.

“We have 10,000 cases in stock and ready to go,” he said. “We took some hard-headed decisions to ensure our stock at least a year ago and will not be running short.

“What with the pandemic, Brexit, supply chain problems, a shortage of bottles and packaging materials, and climate issues with various vintages around the world, it has been a perfect storm.”

Despite these issues, he stressed that there would always be ample stocks available. “Customers might find that their favourite brand of Champagne or Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon is unavailable at the supermarket, but there will be alternatives to explore and discover.”

Despite being well stocked and prepared for the Christmas season, Mr Everton said he was nonetheless affected by the supply crunch.

“We have got three orders on deep water shipments, coming from outside Europe, that are already overdue by at least 12 weeks.

“The supply issues will take time to settle down, but they will get back to normal, and maybe even better than before.”

In the meantime, he added, wine-lovers were welcome to visit his premises in Reindeer Court to sample some of the new lines he has imported as alternatives to affected stocks.