With 500 head office jobs set to go, Sainsbury’s CEO said the savings made will support a new focus on food and streamline operations.
A further 650 jobs are at risk as part of the restructuring which will cut about 500 head-office roles, the company has announced, meaning that a total of 1150 jobs could be lost. Sainsbury’s said the 500 jobs to be axed at head offices will be in sites across the country including the retailer’s Manchester office and its central London Holborn site, as well as offices in Coventry, Milton Keynes and Victoria in London. As many staff permanently switch to working part-time from home, Sainsbury’s said that its remaining office space would be adapted to create “collaborative workspaces” which would encourage greater flexibility when they reopen.
Sainsbury’s chief executive Simon Roberts said: “I know change is difficult but to do the best job we can for our customers, it is vital that we adapt.”
An online fulfilment centre in Bromley-by-Bow will also be closed in June, affecting 650 roles, although the supermarket said it hopes to redeploy most of the staff to neighbouring stores. The majority of workers at the group’s “dark store” fulfilment centre are expected to shift to working in Sainsbury’s stores. By March next year, more than 20 stores in and around the capital are expected to expand their online packing capabilities, enabling Sainsbury’s to deliver many more orders.
Simon Roberts said the savings made from the job cuts will be used to reduce prices in stores and invest in more online facilities He said: “Our new plan puts food first and will create a simpler, nimbler and more efficient business. The money we save will enable us to invest in what customers really care about – lower prices, exciting new products and the most convenient ways for them to shop.”
The cuts are being made despite Sainsbury’s upgrading profit expectations by £60m in January after surging sales of groceries drove stronger than expected sales over Christmas and new year. Despite a surge in online shopping, fulfilment is less profitable compared to selling via stores, and the need to provide protective kit and additional staff to cover for those off sick or shielding during the pandemic has added to outgoing expenses.
“I understand this will be a very difficult time for affected colleagues and we will do everything we can to fully support them,” added Simon Roberts.
Asda recently also announced plans to shut two of its online warehouses and reduce head office roles, putting about 5,000 jobs at risk.