Thousands of Sainsbury's staff hit by shake-up

(c) Sky News 2018: <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/thousands-of-sainsburys-staff-hit-by-shake-up-11219460">Thousands of Sainsbury's staff hit by shake-up</a>
 

Thousands of Sainsbury (Amsterdam: SJ6.AS - news) 's store staff are facing an uncertain future as the company looks to restructure senior roles in an "efficiency" drive.

The UK's second-largest supermarket chain would not say how many jobs could be lost under the process - announced 24 hours after a similar move affecting 1,700 roles was revealed by its biggest rival, Tesco (Frankfurt: 852647 - news) .

It said it was consulting on plans that will see the number of senior in-store posts across its larger stores and convenience operations slimmed down and replaced with fewer management roles.

Staff will be given the choice of applying for the new roles, accepting a more junior position or face redundancy consultation.

Simon Roberts, the company's retail and operations director, said: "We're proposing a store management structure that will deliver best in class leadership and, in many cases, will offer an improved reward package for new management roles.

"The proposals will introduce a more efficient and effective structure, designed to meet the challenges of today's retail environment.

"They will deliver cost savings to be invested in our customer offer and in our colleagues as they continue to provide the very best service for our customers.

"Our intention is not to reduce overall headcount as a result of these proposals.

"I appreciate this will be a difficult time for those affected and we will fully support our people through these changes."

The grocery sector remains in the grip of a price war as the major established chains - Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons, battle to limit the challenge to their market shares posed by discounters such as Aldi and Lidl.

The big chains have slashed thousands of back office jobs in recent years as part of their efforts to save money - cash which can then be invested in lowering prices for shoppers.

Sainsbury's revealed its latest shake-up on the back of plans, announced last year , to slash 3,000 roles in its human resources, head office and payroll departments.

While the company used the release of its Christmas sales figures earlier this month to signal that trading remained "challenging", it raised its profit guidance to account for better-than-expected savings from its takeover of Argos in 2016.

Bev Clarkson, the Unite union's acting national officer for food and drink, said of the latest employment shake-up: "Unite will be seeking guarantees from the management during the 45-day consultation period that there will be no compulsory redundancies for our members.

"We appreciate that Sainsbury's has a good record of redeployment of staff in these situations and we will be exploring every avenue to ensure the continuing employment for our members."