The John Lewis Partnership has said it will raise its lorry driver salaries by £5000 as the industry continues to face damaging worker shortages.
The group – which runs the John Lewis department store arm and Waitrose supermarket chain – said it will start the increase in annual salaries on Sunday.
Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) drivers employed by John Lewis and Waitrose will receive a pay rise of around £2 an hour in their base pay across all its regional and national distribution sites.
The salary increase is designed to ensure the retailer can continue to recruit drivers at “market competitive rates”.
The John Lewis Partnership employs around 900 drivers who will benefit from the pay increase.
Mark Robinson, director of supply chain at the partnership, said: “There’s never been a better time to get behind the wheel for Waitrose and John Lewis.
“We’re responding quickly to the national driver shortage by ensuring our drivers are paid competitively and by investing in training for the future.
“These changes will mean that we can continue to serve our customers well and get them the products they need.”
New drivers with C+E licences joining before November will also be offered a “welcome payment” of £1000, in addition to the pay rise.
It comes after rivals including Tesco announced perks, such as £2000 starting bonuses, to secure new drivers.
This has resulted in fierce battle for available drivers while some have also been poached by firms which will pay higher wages.
The Road Haulage Association said earlier this month that it believed there was a shortage of around 100,000 drivers after the sector was hit by EU worker rules and drivers being told to quarantine by the NHS Covid-19 app.
Earlier this month, transport secretary Grant Shapps announced a consultation to ease driver qualification requirements in a package of measures designed to help the issue.
He also announced a temporary extension of lorry drivers’ working hours from nine to ten hours a day but the move faced criticism from unions.