Thousands of jobs threatened as Asda launches major restructuring

Supermarket giant Asda says its restructuring has been driven by the ‘structural shift’ towards online grocery shopping.

Asda
Asda

Asda has launched consultations with around 5,000 staff over a major restructuring which could put 3,000 back office store workers at risk.

The supermarket giant said the restructuring had been driven by the “structural shift” towards online grocery shopping during the pandemic.

The grocery firm said it planned to create around 4,500 separate jobs in its online operations this year and will look to hire staff hit by the potential cuts.

Nevertheless, Asda said the consultations will affect about 3,000 back office store workers, particularly affecting staff with cash and administrative roles amid the continued slump in cash transactions.

The firm said it plans to close its Dartford and Heston home shopping centres, with around 800 jobs affected, as it looks to shift more picking operations into stores.

It added that around 1,100 of its store management roles will be changed to support online grocery operations as more picking takes place in stores.

The company said this could increase the total headcount in these roles by around 60.

Roger Burnley, Asda chief executive and president, said: “The pandemic has accelerated change across the retail sector, especially the shift towards grocery home shopping, and our priority is to serve customers in the way they want to shop with us.

“The last 12 months have shown us that businesses have to be prepared to adapt quickly to change and I am incredibly proud of the way we demonstrated our agility and resilience through the pandemic.

“We know that these proposed changes will be unsettling for colleagues and our priority is to support them during this consultation process.

Asda
Asda chief executive Roger Burnley (Asda/PA)

“Our plans to transform the business will result in more roles being created than those we propose to remove and our absolute aim is to ensure as many colleagues as possible stay with us, as well as creating the opportunity to welcome new people to our business.”

The news comes months after the billionaire Issa brothers and private equity backer TDR Capital agreed a £6.8 billion deal for the supermarket chain.

The takeover is still awaiting approval from competition regulators so the new owners are yet to take control of Asda’s operations.

Roger Jenkins, national officer for the GMB union, said: “Asda workers have had a torrid two years.

“The failed Sainsbury’s takeover, 12 months working on the pandemic frontline and now the uncertainty of a new takeover, sidling the company with huge debts and potential sell-offs.

“This is the last thing they need. The scope of today’s announcement means 5,000 people have their lives put on hold.

“Asda is a profitable company that does not need to enforce redundancies.

“GMB will battle hard to make sure no one leaves their job unless they want to.”

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