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Wilko and New Look cut jobs while Aldi recruits to new stores

Taking collection of an online order. Image courtesy of Aldi

Retailers from Wilko and New Look to Aldi are reshaping their workforces as the shape of customer demand continues to change.

Wilko is cutting jobs as it restructures its business. The retailer is understood to be affected as the number of people visiting high streets remains below pre-pandemic levels. It is reported to be responding by cutting around 400 jobs in stores, in its contact centre at at its head office, according to The Guardian. 

In a statement, Mark Jackson, Wilko CEO, says: “We’ve already begun our turnaround programme to drive Wilko forward.  As part of this we quickly identified significant changes to the Wilko operating model to enable us to stabilise the business, and then thrive again. This includes some planned and considered changes to our management structure at both our stores and head office.

“We can’t comment on the numbers of team members affected as conversations are still ongoing, but it goes without saying, we’re fully supporting any affected individuals. We know change will be unsettling to our team members and the wider business, and we’re acting swiftly to put in place the new organisational structure.”

Meanwhile, New Look is cutting just over 500 jobs at its Newcastle-under-Lyme distribution centre as it shuts down the night shift at the 1,200 employee site in the light of declining store numbers. About 300 new jobs will also be created during the day shift, which will be discussed with the staff who will be affected. The consultation starts now and any redundancies will take place in May. New Look now has 400 shops, down from around 800 some years ago. By February 2020, it traded from 491 UK stores, after having closed 110 stores through a company voluntary arrangement.

A New Look spokesperson says: “New Look has changed significantly over the past few years. We have accelerated our ecommerce business and right-sized our store estate. With this shift, it has become increasingly clear that the processes at the distribution centre no longer suit our operational needs.

“Therefore, we are proposing a necessary change to working hours in the distribution centre, including the removal of the night shift. Regrettably, we expect this will result in a number of redundancies at the site. We are focusing on supporting our affected colleagues at this time and we expect to be able to offer a considerable number of these individuals new roles on the day shift.”

But Aldi is moving in the opposite direction, with plans to add about 6,000 new members of staff to its 40,000-strong workforce as it plans new store openings around the UK. The discount supermarket is currently recruiting for 450 jobs in 11 regional distribution centres around the UK, while also taking on staff at new shops in towns and cities from Huddersfield and Shrewsbury to Norwich and Newcastle.

Giles Hurley, chief executive of Aldi UK, says: “Demand for Aldi has never been higher as more and more people realise they can make significant savings on every shop without compromising on quality. It’s more important than ever that we are making it even easier for more people to shop with us – including by opening dozens of new stores.”

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