Sainsbury’s has announced 3,500 job cuts, mainly from the Argos chain it bought in 2016.
The retailer said it planned to close about 420 standalone Argos stores by March 2024, although it would open 150 more outlets in Sainsbury’s stores.
Jobs will also go in the supermarkets with the closure of its delicatessens and fresh fish and meat counters.
The firm also posted half-year results, revealing a £137m loss which it blamed on closures and “market changes”.
It comes on the day England enters a second lockdown, which Sainsbury’s said would continue to accelerate “a number of shifts in our industry” as it expands its online and digital operations.
Sainsbury’s said in its statement that the 120 standalone Argos stores that had not reopened since they were closed in March would now shut permanently.
By the end of the restructuring programme, Sainsbury’s said it expected the total number of standalone Argos outlets to be about 100.
Rising jobs toll
“We are talking to colleagues today about where the changes we are announcing in Argos standalone stores and food counters impact their roles,” said Simon Roberts, Sainsbury’s chief executive.
“We will work really hard to find alternative roles for as many of these colleagues as possible and expect to be able to offer alternative roles for the majority of impacted colleagues.”
He said the aim was to make Argos “a simpler, more efficient and more business”. Products from the Habitat brand will also be more widely available in the stores and via Argos.
“Our other brands – Argos, Habitat, Tu, Nectar and Sainsbury’s Bank – must deliver for their customers and for our shareholders in their own right,” he said.
Despite the cutting of the 3,500 roles, the supermarket expects that it will have created about 6,000 net new jobs by the end of the year.
However, the redundancies increase the mounting jobs toll announced by companies facing a coronavirus hit to trading.
On Wednesday, John Lewis and Lloyds Banking Group said they were cutting a combined 2,500 jobs.
More than 200,000 potential job losses have been announced across sectors including banking, hospitality, travel and retail since the start of Covid-19 pandemic in March. Thousands more workers remain on furlough.