Sainsbury’s plans to close two Argos depots over the next three years as part of a “modernisation” of its general merchandise operations across the group, which would see its major warehouses cut from five to three.
The supermarket is set to close its Basildon distribution centre in Essex and depot at Heywood, Greater Manchester, which will impact 1,400 jobs. The move could also threaten support staff employed by logistics company Wincanton.
Sainsbury’s stressed all its workers affected by the plan would have the opportunity to apply for jobs elsewhere in the company.
Simon Roberts, Sainsbury’s chief executive, said: “As with any major change to our business, we have not taken the difficult decision to start this consultation lightly.
“As part of our plan to create a simpler business, we previously set out our intention to integrate our Argos and Sainsbury’s logistics networks. Over the last few years, we’ve been working hard to transform this network as we make our business simpler, more efficient and more effective for customers. This also allows us to reduce costs, so we can invest where it will make the most impact for our customers.”
However, union Unite has said there is no economic justification for this move. Unite national officer Matt Draper said: “Management at Argos/Sainsbury’s has yet to provide any form of business case for the loss of these jobs. Unite will be fighting to preserve every job and will put forward an alternative business case to the company to preserve employment at these two sites.
“This is an incredibly wealthy company which should be investing in its loyal workforce rather than dumping workers in pursuit of short-term profits.
“If Sainsbury’s doesn’t drop its closure plans then Unite will pursue all avenues to preserve employment at these sites.”
Sainsbury’s countered that it is working to modernise its logistics operations. It will also invest £90m to automate its Daventry warehouse. It said this move that will improve availability, and enable faster customer deliveries. Sainsbury’s did not disclose if roles at Daventry will be affected by the automation.