// Tesco confirms 9000 jobs under review in latest round of changes
// Fresh food counter and colleague room staff primarily affected
// Merchandising hours will also be reduced, and a simplified stock control system will be rolled out
// Contrary to earlier speculation, bakery staff will not be affected
Tesco has announced plans to cut jobs from its fresh food counters and staff canteens while simplifying operations on the shop floor and head office, subsequently placing 9000 jobs at risk.
According to a statement that Tesco circulated this afternoon, the latest changes were part of a turnaround scheme first launched four years ago.
While staff who work at fresh food counters and staff canteens would be most at risk of losing their jobs, Tesco also said it would simplify stock control, reduce merchandising hours, and implement a “leaner and simpler structure” at its head office.
Meanwhile, bakery staff would not be affected, effectively refuting earlier speculation in the media that they would also be targeted.
The media speculation, which Tesco labelled as “premature” also included estimates of 15,000 job cuts.
However, Tesco confirmed that an estimated 9000 staff could be impacted by the new announcement, but stressed that up to half of these affected could be redeployed to other customer-facing roles.
The 9000 staff affected is the equivalent to around two per cent of Tesco’s current total workforce of 440,000.
The counter jobs targeted are those in Tesco’s larger stores and include butchers, fishmongers and deli workers.
The retailer said it expected to close down 90 counters, with the remaining 700 large stores trading with either a full or flexible counter offer.
“Not only are customers shopping in different ways, but we know that they have less time available to shop too – which means they are using our counters less frequently,” the retail giant stated.
Meanwhile, colleague rooms would be overhauled with the expansion of self-service kitchens to all stores amid reduced demand for hot food catering service.
“Over the last three years we have been rolling out new self-service colleague kitchen areas in a number of stores, and we are now extending this to all remaining stores with a hot food service,” Tesco said.
“This change will impact the people working in our colleague rooms, who are employed by third party caterers, and we are working with them to provide as much support as we can.”
In regards to stock control, Tesco said that after a number of trials, it found a simpler way to conduct store routines and will be rolling this out across its estate.
While details were scant, the retailer said “these changes mean a significantly reduced workload, with fewer hours needed to complete the routines”.
Tesco also said “fewer merchandising hours” would be needed amid growing frustration from customers and that staff wanted to “spend more time with our customers, rather than moving products around the store”.
“We’ve been working to reduce the amount of layout changes we make, so it’s easier for customers, and less work for colleagues,” it said.
Finally, Tesco said it completed “a detailed review” and this week they would be talking to head office staff about some changes.
“Contrary to media reports over the weekend, we do not plan to make any significant changes to bakeries this year,” Tesco added.
The retailer’s UK chief executive Jason Tarry said: “In our four years of turnaround we’ve made good progress, but the market is challenging and we need to continually adapt to remain competitive and respond to how customers want to shop.
“We’re making changes to our UK stores and head office to simplify what we do and how we do it, so we’re better able to meet the needs of our customers.
“This will impact some of our colleagues and our commitment is to minimise this as much as possible and support our colleagues throughout.”
The news comes after Tesco spent £4 billion last year to acquire wholesaler and convenience store operator Booker in a bid to have more control over its supply chain.
It also launched a new discount grocery chain called Jack’s towards the end of the year, as a direct response to rapidly-growing discount rivals Lidl and Aldi.
Since chief executive Dave Lewis took the helm of Tesco in 2014, an estimated 10,000 jobs have been cut from the company.