A recruitment crisis at Milk & More’s Keynsham depot has led to it suspending doorstep deliveries to 3,500 customers.
The firm has apologised to those affected and says it is doing all it can to fill the vacancies at the Ashmead Road centre.
In a statement this week the company told us: “Milk & More is on a journey to secure the future of the great British milkman, which had been in decline for 30 years. This has led, over the last year, to a record number of customers signing up for Milk & More in Bristol and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, this has coincided with unprecedented staff shortages, as we compete in Bristol with parcel delivery services for new drivers.
“We currently have vacancies for nine milkmen and women to be based at our Keynsham Fulfilment Centre, which has 34 delivery rounds.
“We have been recruiting over the past few months and will continue to do so until these positions are filled but despite strenuous efforts to find a solution, with immediate effect we have regretfully suspended deliveries to 3,500 of our 17,000 customers in Bristol and we will not be accepting new customers until further notice.
“We recognise that this is far from ideal for our customers and we are very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused. As soon as we have an update on when we can resume deliveries, we will let our customers know.”
Milk & More say that in order to secure the future of the business it has made other significant changes, including delivering to customers pre-7am, which has been “extremely well received”.
One of our older readers from Longwell Green has contacted us to highlight her concerns about the impact of the suspension of deliveries on older and vulnerable customers.
She has had milk delivered for more than 40 years but says she recently received a note from Milk & More informing her that her delivery was being suspended with immediate effect due to staff shortages. However, she believes only customers who pay by cash and cheque are affected and that customers with online accounts are still getting deliveries.
She said: “The problem I have with this is that the people that no longer are having their milk delivered are the older population and as we know some will have mobility problems and that indicates to me not only ageism but disablement issues as well and that it is also forcing us to drink plastic milk and all that involves.”
She added that milkmen and women play a vital role in looking out for older and more vulnerable customers in the community.
In response to her concerns, Milk & More told us: “These recent delivery issues have regrettably impacted customers, across all the various ways in which they can manage their account with us.
“Last year we also conducted a trial in Essex, where we asked those who paid by cash or cheque to sign up to manage their account online or pay by Direct Debit offline by 31st December 2019. The main reason for this trial was to ensure the safety and welfare of our milkmen and women. We have instances every year of our milkmen and women being robbed and injured because they collect cash and we simply need to stop this happening.
“In addition, as we deliver pre-7am, our milkmen and women can no longer come back during the day to collect cash. This is time that they need to be spending with their family or sleeping.
“As a result of the success of the trial, from the 1st March 2020, we will no longer accept cash payments, but we will have three other simple payment options for customers to choose from including creating and managing their account online at www.milkandmore.co.uk, moving to variable Direct Debit or paying by cheque.
“As soon as we have recruited new staff in Bristol, we will be inviting customers to resume their Milk & More service.”