Asda has launched consultations with around 5000 staff over a major restructuring which could put around 3000 back office store workers at risk.
The supermarket giant said the restructuring has been driven by the “structural shift” towards online grocery shopping during the pandemic.
The grocery firm said it also plans to create around 4500 separate jobs in its online operations this year and will look to hire staff impacted by the potential cuts.
Nevertheless, Asda said the consultations will impact about 3000 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 1100 of its store management roles will be changed to support online grocery operations as more picking takes place in stores.
However, the company said this could increase the total headcount in these roles by around 60, as part of the consultations.
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.
“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 months after the billionaire Issa brothers and private equity backer TDR Capital agreed a £6.8bn 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, GMB National Officer, said: “Asda workers have had a torrid two years. The failed Sainsbury’s takeover, twelve months working on the pandemic frontline and now the uncertainty of a new take over, sidling the company with huge debts and potential sell-offs.
“This is the last thing they need.
“The scope of today’s announcement means 5000 people have their lives put on hold. It’s not right
“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.”