Thousands of jobs are at risk at Asda after the supermarket giant announced a major restructure.
The company has launched a consultation with 5,000 staff over the plans – including 3,000 back office store workers.
It said the decision has been driven by the ‘structural shift’ towards online grocery shopping during the pandemic.
The grocery firm also plans to close its Dartford and Heston home shopping centres, with around 800 jobs affected.
As part of the restructure the company also wants to create 4,500 jobs in its online operations and confirmed that it will look to re-hire staff who have been impacted by the potential cuts.
Roger Burnley, Asda chief executive officer 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.”
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Last year, Walmart agreed a £6.8bn deal to sell Asda to petrol station billionaire brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa.
At the time, they said: “Asda’s performance through the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fundamental strength and resilience of the business, and we are excited to support Roger and his team as they continue to reposition the business to drive long-term growth.”
Union bosses at GMB say they will ‘battle hard’ to make sure nobody is forced to leave their job.
Roger Jenkins, GMB National Officer, 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 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.”