Around 40 shops in Wallonia have been struggling with empty shelves following the recent floods, resulting in the food retail branch of self-employed organisation UNIZO threatening legal action against Delhaize.
In a statement from the management, the supermarket chain said the delivery issues were down to problems within logistics, as there are not enough trucks and drivers to supply the shops, however, according to the UNIZO's branch buurtsuper.be, these problems go back further in time.
"We have been closely monitoring the situation at Delhaize with a law firm for several months now. If Delhaize does not pay up in the autumn, we will go to court," buurtsuper.be's Luc Ardies told De Tijd.
Trucks are now being sent en masse to the region, however, that in itself is more difficult as a result of the floods, as a lot of roads have been destroyed in Wallonia.
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The limited accessibility of some regions meant that drivers had to spend much longer on the road and could not make a planned second or third trip. In some cases, they even had to return without having delivered anything, according to reports.
As there are not enough drivers within the company, this is also slowly resulting in stocks in other Delhaize shops becoming depleted.
Not a new problem
The floods, however, reportedly only worsened an existing problem, as there have been issues with deliveries to these stores for around seven years now.
"The past week it was mainly about problems with fresh food," Ardies told radio 1, "and Delhaize itself refers to the flooding in Wallonia, but the problems with the supply to independent shopkeepers have been dragging on for much longer. They started when a new distribution centre was started."
In 2018, a new fully automated warehouse opened in Ninove in East Flanders, however, it has been contending with IT problems from the outset, further adding fuel to the fire.
"It's much worse than trucks not arriving on time or not delivering, our members also complain about not being able to order what they think they can sell," Ardies said.
He added that the organisation has tried to take Delhaize to court before, but it did not get a hearing.
"In the first instance we will ask for compensation but if they don't want to respond, we will start a procedure," Ardies said.
So far, Delhaize has not commented.