Tesco this week announced moves to simplify its customer service operations. It is to bring them together into one single expanded contact centre operation in Dundee, where 250 extra staff will be taken on, while closing its Cardiff centre with the loss of 1,100 jobs from next February.
The decision goes to the heart of the supermarket’s strategy to focus on the customer, while transforming the business to a sustainable and cost-effective model to meet the demands of a fast-changing retail environment. Tesco, an Elite retailer in IRUK Top500 research, says that the new approach will streamline customer service over the phone, by email and on social media.
Matt Davies, UK chief executive of Tesco [IRDX RTSC], said: “The retail sector is facing unprecedented challenges and we must ensure we run our business in a sustainable and cost-effective way, while meeting the changing needs of our customers.
“To help us achieve this, we’ve taken the difficult decision to close our customer service operations in Cardiff.
“We realise this will have a significant effect on colleagues in the Cardiff area, and our priority now is to continue to do all we can to support them at this time.”
Retail union Usdaw said call centre staff were shocked by the news.
“This is clearly devastating news for our members and will have a wider impact on South Wales, as so many jobs are potentially lost to our local economy,” said Usdaw divisional officer Nick Ireland.
“We will now enter into consultation talks with the company over the coming weeks to look at the business case for the proposed closure. Our priorities are to keep as many members as possible in employment, whether that is with Tesco or other local employers.”
In April, Tesco reported rising sales resulting from a strategy focused on putting both online and the store at the service of the retailer. Last month it said it was to start using voice-controlled Google Home to enable users to add things to their Tesco shopping basket.
Tesco’s move to simplify customer service cuts the number of people it employs substantially as it regroups in the light of emerging technologies. In March, a PwC report suggested that up to 30% of UK jobs would be at risk from automation by the early 2030s, with retail among the sectors set to be hardest hit. There, said PwC, up to 44% of jobs could go.
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- Image courtesy of Tesco