Asda Plans to End or Shift 5,000 Worker Positions After Sale

Asda plans to end or change 5,000 employees’ positions just a week after new owners bought control of Britain’s third-largest grocer from Walmart Inc..

The employees will be asked to retrain in new roles or risk losing their jobs as the company shifts about 3.5% of its total workforce. The supermarket said Thursday it’s consulting with the affected workers, who will be offered different positions in faster-growing parts of the business, such as online.

Asda is revealing plans for a revamp a week after entrepreneurs Zuber and Mohsin Issa completed their acquisition of a majority stake in Asda with TDR Capital. Britain’s competition regulator will make a preliminary decision on whether the deal can go ahead in April. Asda, whose sales jumped 5.1% in the last three months of 2020, said it needs to adapt as more people in Britain shop online during the pandemic.

The plan involves closing two home-shopping centers in southeast England, which will eliminate 800 positions. About 3,000 back-office jobs are at risk in a simplification, and about 1,100 deputy store managers and section leaders will have their roles redefined.

The GMB union said it plans to “battle hard” against any job cuts.

Chief Executive Officer Roger Burnley said that although the changes will be unsettling for employees, the company plans to create more jobs than it eliminates.

Asda said it will add 4,500 e-commerce jobs this year including roles where workers in shops fulfill online orders. The grocer’s online capacity is up 90% since last March to 850,000 weekly orders and the chain expects to reach 1 million orders a week by the end of the year.

The back-office restructuring comes as the grocer said it has less need to have one person solely responsible for counting cash in each store at the end of each day as more people order online or pay digitally.

Walmart had controlled the supermarket chain since 1999.

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