Asda, Britain’s third largest supermarket chain, is to axe hundreds of jobs amid fierce competition from discount rivals in the increasingly challenging grocery sector.
Asda is owned by the world’s biggest retailer Wal-mart, which announced its first ever mass store closing last week. According to Sky News, Asda will inform staff this week about the latest round of redundancies, which will largely centre on the Leeds-based head office.
The announcement comes after the majority of the dominant grocery players, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, recorded prediction-beating Christmas trading results.
Asda has not yet released an update on the festive trading period, and will not do so until its parent company does next month.
Industry analysts do not expect it to have fared well. Recent data from Kantar Worldpanel suggests that sales declined by 3.5% in the 12 weeks to January 3, reducing Asda’s share of the grocery market by 0.6% to 16.2%
In a statement Asda said:
"It’s well documented that in recent years, customers have radically changed the way they shop.
We were the first of the 'big four' to recognise this and launch a new strategy in 2013 yet the external pressures have accelerated at an increasingly rapid rate over the last 18 months.
As a result, the industry faces major challenges and the certainty of permanent structural change. In the context of this, we also have to further change the way we do business.
Today, we have started to talk to our colleagues in head office functions about what this means for them.
We have made some difficult but necessary decisions but we must discuss these with our colleagues before we talk publicly."
Sources have said that the final number of redundancies remained unclear on Monday morning but that it would likely be "in the hundreds".
Asda employs 170,000 people across the UK, including 3,000 at its head office.