Asda has confirmed that it is making around 530 store staff redundant as it gets rid of unpopular shop floor services such as photo processing.
The Leeds-based group announced in January that it was talking to 5,000 store staff about potential changes to their jobs in a move that could lead to redundancies if colleagues decided not to take up their new positions.
This morning Asda confirmed that it has consulted half of the 5,000 affected staff and 280 have decided to take voluntary redundancy or decided that the role they were offered wasn’t suitable. Alternative jobs included moving to a different store or a different department.
A further 2,500 are still in consultation and Asda expects that around 250 workers will decide not to take alternative jobs or will opt for voluntary redundancy. The changes are part of Asda’s Project Renewal, a far reaching programme to modernise stores, cut prices and win back customers that have switched to discount retailers Aldi and Lidl. Asda has pinpointed a number of shop floor services such as photo processing and its George clothing desks that are no longer as popular as they were.
Pharmacy opening hours will also be changed to meet customer demand and services such as make your own pizza may be removed from smaller stores where people prefer to buy pre-packed pizza.
In a separate move Asda confirmed that 250 staff have left its Leeds head office, where Asda employs around 3,000 staff Last month Asda announced its worst Christmas on record with a 5.8 per cent slump in underlying sales and blamed short term price cuts by rivals for its poor performance.
The decline during the three months to January 1 was the grocer’s worst ever quarterly performance and will put pressure on chief executive Andy Clarke who had previously described the 4.7 per cent sales crash in spring last year as the grocer’s “nadir”.
Mr Clarke defended the grocer’s decision not to join in its rivals’ pre-Christmas price cutting by saying that the actions of its competitors are not sustainable.
“Of course Q4 was softer than we thought. That was about the market not our strategy,” he said.
“We are a business in control not in crisis.”
He added that the recovery of the market leader Tesco in the fourth quarter had surprised everyone.
“They certainly shaped up in the last quarter,” he added
Asda also called into question Morrisons’ deep price cuts on alcohol ahead of the festive season.
“In food we were surprised that the volume of short term promotions were as deep, especially in beer, wine and spirits.
“Will it lock in customers? I doubt it.”
At a time when arch rivals Bradford-based Morrisons and Tesco are enduring profit slumps in a bid to woo back customers by cutting prices, Asda has insisted that its profits are more important than underlying sales.