Asda to close Dartford home shopping centre – jobs to go

Asda has launched consultations with around 5,000 staff over a major restructuring which will see its Dartford shopping centre close.

The newly announced plans could put 3,000 back office store workers at risk, with the supermarket giant saying the restructuring has been driven by the “structural shift” towards online grocery shopping during the pandemic.

Part of the plans will see its home shopping centres/warehouses close in Sandpit Road, Dartford, and in Heston, west London, with around 800 jobs affected as it looks to shift more picking operations into stores.

But Asda said it planned to create around 4,500 separate jobs in its online operations this year and will look to hire staff hit by the potential cuts.

Nevertheless, the grocery firm said the consultations will affect about 3,000 back office store workers, particularly affecting staff with cash and administrative roles amid the continued slump in cash transactions.

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It added that around 1,100 of its store management roles will be changed to support online grocery operations as more picking takes place in stores.

The company said this could increase the total headcount in these roles by around 60.

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.

News Shopper: Asda chief executive Roger Burnley. Picture: Asda/PAAsda chief executive Roger Burnley. Picture: Asda/PA

“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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The news comes months after the billionaire Issa brothers and private equity backer TDR Capital agreed a £6.8 billion 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, national officer for the GMB union, 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 takeover, 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.

“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.”

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