Iceland boss takes aim at PM’s ‘tough rhetoric’ on retailers

Iceland’s chief executive has warned that price rises are “inevitable” as he urged the government to “work properly” with businesses.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Richard Walker said supermarkets were being rocked by soaring electricity bills, environmental taxes and rising HGV driver pay.

“We are not an endless sponge that can absorb all these different cost increases,” he warned.

“Unfortunately price rises are inevitable, and we are starting to see that already in the market.”

 READ MORE: Driver shortage to persist until 2022, warns Iceland

In what appeared to be a rebuke to the government, Walker added that “tough rhetoric is really not helpful”.

The intervention comes after Boris Johnson urged industry bosses to pay higher wages and stop relying on cheap foreign labour.

“We are not going back to the same old broken model with low wages, low growth, low skills and low productivity, all of it enabled and assisted by uncontrolled immigration,” he told the Conservative Party Conference yesterday.

In today’s Daily Mail, Walker wrote that he did not disagree with Johnson’s vision.

However, he argued that the PM had dodged a “serious discussion with the nation’s businesses about how we are going to get there”.

Although the government announced 5000 visas in September to deal with lorry driver shortages, the Iceland boss said this came “months” too late.

“If government had engaged with business we could have headed off these problems before the country came close to grinding to a halt,” he claimed.

Walker played down warnings of Christmas disruption and said Iceland had “freezer space aplenty for turkeys and other festive treats”.

He added: “But we need to find a way to keep all firms just as well-stocked – and for that, the government must start working properly with business.”

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