Asda has disclosed that it will start consultations with its employees regarding the changes that could result in a reported loss of up to 2,500 jobs in 2019.
The news was first reported by the Press Association. It comes as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) administers a second stage investigation into the proposed takeover of the supermarket by Sainsbury’s, its rival.
According to the union representing Asda staff, GMB, some notices of potential redundancy have been issued to the workers across departments including its petrol stations, bakery departments, and back office.
A spokesperson from Asda stated: “In a competitive retail market, where customers rightly expect great value and ease of service, we must always look at how we can work more quickly and efficiently for them – and inevitably, that means we need to consider changing the roles we need our colleagues to do or the hours needed in particular parts of our stores.”
He added: “We believe the proposed changes we are consulting on would allow us to do a better job for our customers. We also recognise that discussions about potential change aren’t easy. If the decision is taken to implement the proposed changes we would work with our colleagues to look at the potential impact of these proposals on them.”
The national officer for GMB, Gary Carter, stated: “With all the speculation surrounding the proposed Sainsbury’s merger and potential sell-offs of stores, this news will not put anyone’s mind at rest.”
Earlier in 2018, Sainsbury’s announced that it is planning to acquire Asda in a £12 billion deal which could reduce the number of supermarkets in the United Kingdom. As a merged entity, the supermarkets in Britain would command nearly £1 in every £3 spent on groceries.
Last month, the CMA said that its investigation into the merger discovered that there was a “realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition (SLC).”
It continued: “The CMA believes that the merger may give rise to a realistic prospect of an SLC in many of these local areas if Sainsbury’s and Asda are insufficiently constrained by other local competitors.”
It was able to identify 463 local areas where the supermarkets overlap.
Earlier this month, the watchdog said that the impact of budget rivals Lidl and Aldi on the supermarket industry is a focus of its investigation into the said merger. Recently, the German discounters raised their stakes in the supermarket business at the expense of their bigger competitors.