Sainsbury's to cut hundreds of jobs in latest shake-up

James Sillars, business reporter

Sainsbury's says it is to cut hundreds of management jobs, building on a cull of more senior roles last year.

The retailer blamed continued integration of Argos, which it bought in 2016, into the supermarket chain's stores for the decision.

It refused to confirm the total number of people involved but said the announcement represented the "finalising" of new leadership structures and the merging of its store support centre teams.

Sainsbury's announced a year ago that it was offloading a wave of senior in-store and leadership workers - placing thousands of jobs at risk.

In Tuesday's update it said: "Since the start of this financial year (March 2019) Sainsbury's senior leadership team has been reduced by over 20%.

"Bringing together more teams in commercial, retail, finance, digital, technology and HR will lead to a reduction of hundreds of management roles across the business."

The so-called "big four" supermarket chains have axed many thousands of jobs over the past few years as they bid to save money and invest more in price to battle the challenge posed by discounters such as Aldi and Lidl.

They have typically cited changing customer habits for the job losses.

Sainsbury's chief executive Mike Coupe told colleagues: "We have to adapt to continue to meet the needs of our customers now and in the future and, while change can be hard, it's also necessary.

"We have a clear purpose and a strong and compelling set of priorities that will support us to deliver for our customers.

"We already have a sense of momentum across the business and can accelerate this by streamlining our structure and responding to customer needs more quickly.

"Truly integrating our business also unlocks efficiencies that we can reinvest in the things that matter most to our customers.

"I'm confident that the changes we've announced today will move us forward and deliver a joined-up customer experience across our brands."

Mr Coupe told Sky News just weeks ago he expected 2020 to continue to be challenging for the retail sector as shoppers remain cautious at a time when chains have been battling rising costs from things such as business rates, minimum wage rules and rents.

The company had just reported its fifth consecutive quarter of falling sales.

It said that weak sales of games and toys had dragged on its like-for-like performance over the 15 weeks to 4 January.