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Sainsbury's and Argos set to slash hundreds of jobs

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Sainsbury's and Argos blamed integration for job losses. Photo: Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/Sipa USA

Sainsbury’s and Argos are set to slash hundreds of office jobs as teams are merged following the supermarket’s 2016 takeover of the catalogue retailer.

The major UK supermarket (SBRY.L) became the latest in a long line of high street names to announce more staff cuts as retailers struggle, despite rising employment in Britain overall.

It announced roles on Sainsbury’s senior leadership team had already been cut, with a steep drop in headcount of more than 20% since March last year.

It said in a statement released to the media the integration of the two retail firms would lead to a “reduction of hundreds of management roles across the business.”

The axe is likely to fall in commercial, retail, finance, digital, technology and HR teams, according to Sainsbury’s. Store support centre teams are also set to be merged, while the companies are “finalising” leadership structures.

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The retailer said Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s CEO, told staff: “I firmly believe that with our trusted brands, great quality products in over 2,000 locations, leading digital and delivery capabilities and outstanding colleagues, we are uniquely placed to deliver a seamless shopping experience and to help our customers live well for less.

 “But 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.”

The supermarket said recently its total sales fell by 0.7% in the 15 weeks to 4 January. The performance was largely driven by a slump in sales at Argos.

READ MORE: Sainsbury’s sales fall over Christmas as Argos struggles

Grocery sales at Sainsbury’s meanwhile were stagnant over Christmas, growing by just 0.4%, although online grocery sales jumped by 7.3% in the period. Clothing sales of Sainsbury’s Tu range rose by 4.4%.

The two retailers also announced in September dozens of stores were set to close as part of a £500m ($650m) cost-cutting drive over the next five years.

Up to 15 Sainsbury’s supermarkets, up to 40 convenience stores and up to 70 Argos stores were due to open at the time.

But Sainsbury’s, which bought Argos in 2016, said it also planned to open around 10 new supermarkets, 80 Argos outlets in Sainsbury’s and 110 new convenience stores.

Sainsbury's is still battling to rebuild investors' confidence in its future after its planned mega-merger with rival Asda was blocked by regulators last year.

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