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Tuesday 16 October 2018

Thousands of shop floor jobs at risk in Sainsbury’s restructure

The retailer is consulting with staff over plans that will see the number of senior in-store posts slimmed down.

Sainsbury's is making changes to its store staffing (John Stillwell/PA)
Sainsbury's is making changes to its store staffing (John Stillwell/PA)

By Ravender Sembhy, Press Association City Editor

Sainsbury’s has announced a management shake-up at its supermarkets, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

The retailer is consulting with staff over plans that will see the number of senior in-store posts slimmed down and replaced with fewer management roles.

Affected staff, thought to run into the thousands, will be given the choice of applying for the new roles, accepting a more junior position or facing redundancy consultation.

Sainsbury’s said the changes at both its supermarkets and convenience stores are “designed to meet the challenges of today’s retail environment” and will result in a more “efficient” structure.

Simon Roberts, the supermarket’s retail and operations director, insisted that the “intention is not to reduce overall headcount”.

He added: “We’re proposing a store management structure that will deliver best-in-class leadership and, in many cases, will offer an improved reward package for new management roles.

“The proposals will introduce a more efficient and effective structure, designed to meet the challenges of today’s retail environment.

“They will deliver cost savings to be invested in our customer offer and in our colleagues as they continue to provide the very best service for our customers.”

The news comes just a day after rival Tesco said it would axe 1,700 shop floor jobs as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Asda, another Big Four player, has also announced swingeing cuts recently.

Sainsbury’s is undergoing a major cost-cutting drive amid a brutal price war that has engulfed a sector also reeling under inflationary pressures and diminished consumer spending power.

Firms have also been hammered by soaring business rates and a collapse in shopper confidence following the Brexit vote.

Late last year the supermarket giant announced that it was axing 2,000 jobs, mainly from human resources and payroll staff, adding to 1,000 head office job cuts in August, as part of efforts to cut another £500 million of costs.

Earlier this month Sainsbury’s warned of a challenging market amid weaker sales at Argos, which it acquired in 2016.

Union Unite said that it is seeking guarantees from Sainsbury’s management that there will be no compulsory redundancies for its members.

Bev Clarkson, the union’s acting national officer for food and drink, said: “This is very bad news for those dedicated workers affected by the planned job losses, and Unite will be giving our members maximum support at this difficult time.

“Unite will be seeking guarantees from the management during the 45-day consultation period that there will be no compulsory redundancies for our members.

“We appreciate that Sainsbury’s has a good record of redeployment of staff in these situations and we will be exploring every avenue to ensure the continuing employment for our members.

“During the consultation period, we will be having meetings with management, including asking the company if it has done an equalities impact audit of those affected by today’s announcement.”

Press Association

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