British retail giant Tesco could cut 15,000 jobs and close some fresh food counters and bakeries as part of a £1.5 billion cost-saving initiative, according to reports.
The Mail on Sunday reported that Tesco launched a review of jobs after a tough Christmas trading period. Industry sources told the paper that meat, fish and delicatessen counters are in the firing line.
A wide range of changes at the retailer are reportedly being considered, such as an overhaul of its bakeries – using frozen instead of fresh dough – and replacing staff canteens with vending machines.
Tesco has more than 310,000 people employed in the UK, according to its 2018 annual report.
According to the BBC, Tesco’s chief operating officer, Tony Hogett, said in an internal company email that the plans are “still being finalised”.
In a memo to staff, Tony Hogett said:
“We are committed to tell our colleagues first of any changes we make as we continue to refresh and simplify the way we serve customers in our stores.”
“These changes are still being finalised, but as a result of this leak and speculation, we will bring forward our communications to give more information as soon as possible.
“We recognise that any changes will be hard for impacted colleagues, and unsettling for everyone. Our priority is to support our colleagues throughout.”
Since David Lewis took over as Tesco chief executive in 2014, over 10,000 jobs have been axed at the retailer.
A source told the The Mail On Sunday: “Dave Lewis’ attitude seems to be ‘if in doubt, just close it’ – but for elderly customers, or those on a budget, using the counters for a few slices of ham, those aren’t the days they do their shopping.”
Two of Britain’s largest larbour unions have called for meetings with Tesco over the media reports.
Pauline Foulkes – Usdaw National Officer said in a statement: “Reports and speculation in the media about significant job cuts are distressing for Tesco staff and it is appalling that they should hear about the future of their jobs in this way. Usdaw is seeking an urgent meeting with the company to clarify the situation, to examine the details of what changes they are proposing and what this means for staff.
“Our priority will be to press Tesco to confirm the details of their proposed changes to stop any further speculation. In the meantime Usdaw’s officials and reps are on hand to support our members and further updates will be provided once we have further information”.
Unite’s national officer for retail distribution, Adrian Jones, said his union is also seeking clarification from Tesco.
“We would have expected to have been informed of any such large-scale changes that would affect our members,” Mr Jones was quoted by the FT as saying.