Supermarket shift

Asda to create online jobs as chain restructures

Roger Burnley of Asda

Roger Burnley: ‘Our plans will result in more roles being created’

Asda will see its payroll rise as it restructures the workforce to meet a shift towards online deliveries.

The supermarket chain is consulting with 5,000 workers on the changes which will see 3,000 back-office store jobs cut.

However, it will create 4,500 jobs in its online operations this year, and will look to re-hire some of the staff impacted by the potential cuts.

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 by staff takes place in stores.

However, the company said this could increase the total headcount in these roles by around 60, as part of the restructuring.

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.”

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

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“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.”

It comes after the billionaire Issa brothers and private equity backer TDR Capital completed a £6.8bn acquisition of the business.

Zuber and Mohsin Issa, who made their fortunes running petrol stations, are still awaiting approval from competition regulators, but are already said to be considering a sale of the George fashion and household division.

Professor John Colley, Associate Dean of Warwick Business School and former Managing Director of a FTSE 100 company, said: “It is not surprising to see the new owners of Asda indulging in a round of job cuts and certainly the Leeds Head Office and London offices are likely to feature, if not now then in the near future.

“The move to store picking of online orders can’t be efficient but it does release some property for sale.

“As store demand has reduced anyway due to the switch to online, it is no surprise that staff cuts have followed. It is likely there will be further cuts as TDR get to grips with the business.

“Expect more alliances with other retailers to fill the sites and stores, which may well create jobs in the coming years.”

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