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Asda has announced a major shake up of its operations that puts thousands of back office jobs at risk, and also creates thousands more in its stores to assemble online orders.

The proposals are a response to the shift towards online shopping due to the pandemic. They include simplifying ‘back office’ store functions, which will affect around 3,000 workers.

Under the plan, cash office, administration, people and training tasks would be covered by one “multi-skilled back office colleague”.

The proposals include training colleagues so they could complete multiple back office tasks using new technology and processes that are more relevant due to a reduction in cash handling.

Asda, which has launched a “collective consultation” with staff, says it is responding to the structural shift towards online. Delivery volumes have doubled to reach levels that were expected to take nine years to achieve.

Asda has already increased its online capacity by 90% since last March to 850,000 weekly slots, and is on course to fulfil one million orders per week by the end of the year.

To handle rising for online demand, Asda is expanding its ‘in store pick’ model – creating 4,500 new roles in store-based online operations across the country.

It is proposing to close its Dartford and Heston home shopping centres, impacting around 800 colleagues, with future online orders in the South picked from local stores to deliver improved levels of availability, capacity and service.

It also plans to change about 1,100 store management roles, replacing deputy store manager and section leader roles with two new roles – Operations Manager and Online Trading Manager.

Asda says it hopes to move as many colleagues as possible into alternative roles, with redundancy the last option.

Roger Burnley, Asda CEO and President, said:

“The pandemic has accelerated change across the retail sector especially the shift towards grocery home shopping and our priority is to serve customers in the way they want to shop with us. The last 12 months have shown us that businesses have to be prepared to adapt quickly to change and I am incredibly proud of the way we demonstrated our agility and resilience through the pandemic. As customer habits continue to change we have to evolve our business to meet these demands and ensure our business is strong and sustainable for the long term.

“We know that these proposed changes will be unsettling for colleagues and our priority is to support them during this consultation process. Our plans to transform the business will result in more roles being created than those we propose to remove and our absolute aim is to ensure as many colleagues as possible stay with us, as well as creating the opportunity to welcome new people to our business.”

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