Leeds-based Asda has announced “transformation proposals in response to changing shopping habits” that will involve creating 4,500 new roles in store-based online operations across the UK.
However, Asda also said it will “enter formal consultations with around 5,000 colleagues potentially impacted by the proposals out of a total workforce of 145,000.”
GMB Union said it has begun consultation with Asda as the supermarket “announces more than 3,700 potential job losses.”
Asda said if its proposals are enacted “the priority will be to move as many colleagues as possible into alternative roles within Asda, with redundancy the last option.”
Blackburn-based billionaires the Issa brothers and TDR Capital recently acquired a majority ownership stake in Asda from Walmart.
“Asda has today announced a programme of change proposals to transform parts of its business in response to the changing demands of the retail sector,” said the Leeds firm.
“The supermarket has seen a structural shift in customer behaviour towards online grocery during the pandemic, consistently growing ahead of the market, with delivery volumes doubling to reach levels that were expected to take nine years to achieve.
“Asda has increased its online capacity by 90% since last March to 850,000 weekly slots and remains on course to fulfil one million orders per week by the end of the year.
“To support the increasing number of customers who are choosing to shop online and will continue to do so, the supermarket now intends to expand its ‘in store pick’ model even further – creating 4,500 new roles in store-based online operations across the country.
“Asda has also opened a collective consultation on proposals to transform operations in three different parts of its business, creating simpler, more efficient ways of working for colleagues and a better experience for customers, in-line with wider changes across the grocery industry.”
GMB Union said it will tell Asda bosses no one should be forced to leave their job unless they want to.
GMB National Officer Roger Jenkins 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 5,000 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.”
Asda CEO Roger Burnley 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.
“As customer habits continue to change we have to evolve our business to meet these demands and ensure our business is strong and sustainable for the long term.
“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.”