More than 1,400 jobs affected as Sainsbury’s closes two depots in wider overhaul
Sainsbury’s has revealed plans to close two Argos depots over the next three years as part an overhaul that will impact more than 1,400 jobs.
The supermarket giant has confirmed it is aiming to shut its Argos warehouse in Basildon, Essex, and a depot in Heywood, Greater Manchester, by 2026.
It said 1,400 jobs will be affected by the closure of the sites, which serve its Argos stores, including both Sainsbury’s workers and those who work for Wincanton as part of an outsourced contract.
Sainsbury’s also said it will close its Milton Keynes office in response to flexible working across the group, but stressed no jobs would be impacted by the decision.
However, it also announced its three remaining Habitat showrooms will close later this year as it plans to launch a replacement digital showroom, which will see a small number of Habitat workers affected.
Simon Roberts, chief executive of Sainsbury’s, said: “As with any major change to our business, we have not taken the difficult decision to start this consultation lightly.
“As part of our plan to create a simpler business, we previously set out our intention to integrate our Argos and Sainsbury’s logistics networks.
“Over the last few years, we’ve been working hard to transform this network as we make our business simpler, more efficient and more effective for customers.
“This also allows us to reduce costs, so we can invest where it will make the most impact for our customers.”
He added: “We understand that this will be an unsettling time for affected colleagues, and we will support them however we can throughout this process.”
Sainsbury’s said it would consolidate its five existing Sainsbury’s and Argos depots into three, with its Daventry site also being further automated with a £90 million proposed investment, although it does not at this stage expect any roles at Daventry to be affected.
It said that workers impacted by the decision will be able to “explore alternative roles” within the group.
Trade union Unite said that there was no “economic justification” for the closures.
Unite national officer Matt Draper said: “Management at Argos/Sainsbury’s has yet to provide any form of business case for the loss of these jobs.
“Unite will be fighting to preserve every job and will put forward an alternative business case to the company to preserve employment at these two sites.
“This is an incredibly wealthy company which should be investing in its loyal workforce rather than dumping workers in pursuit of short-term profits.
“If Sainsbury’s doesn’t drop its closure plans then Unite will pursue all avenues to preserve employment at these sites.”
But Sainsbury’s insisted the changes, together with the ongoing expansion of its local warehouse network across the UK, would improve availability, reduce stock and allow faster customer deliveries.
“The new three-site general merchandise network will improve productivity and the working environment, as well as increasing resilience and flexibility for the future,” it said.
The retailer said the closure of its Milton Keynes office follows an increase in remote working across the business, with only 11% of available desk space being used regularly by staff on the site.
It plans to offer employees based in Milton Keynes the option of switching to an alternative office alongside remote working.
The job cuts come amid a wider cull in the supermarket sector, with Tesco and Asda also recently announcing moves to axe roles as they slash costs in the face of stiff competition from discounters Aldi and Lidl, as well as surging inflation and consumer spending cutbacks.
Research by the Centre for Retail Research recently revealed that UK retailers have slashed almost 15,000 jobs since the start of 2023 after a raft of collapses and restructurings on the high street.