UPDATE: UK: Co-op confirms "hundreds" of lay-offs
Co-op confirms job losses
UK retailer The Co-operative Group this afternoon (23 February) confirmed that it plans to cut hundreds of back-office roles in a bid to increase profits from its food business.
Earlier today, the UK retailer briefed its management and administrative staff on a restructuring scheme that aims to improve the "cost effectiveness" of its food business. The move will result in hundreds of redundancies, primarily at its Manchester head office.
A spokesperson for the Co-op told just-food that it is "early days" to say exactly how many jobs will go.
However, he added: "At present it looks to be around 280. This could however be reduced if we can place people elsewhere in the Group."
Some of those affected will have the opportunity to apply for roles in the new structure and others will be offered voluntary redundancy, the Co-op said.
Staff at the group's national network of stores and distribution centres will not be affected.
Announcing the news, the Co-op was quick to stress that it is continuing to "invest heavily" behind its food business, which has struggled to reverse declining sales and profits over the past year.
In the first-half to 2 July, food sales fell 4.6%, resulting in a 21% decrease in underlying profits from its food stores. The company was, however, able to stem the tide somewhat during the third quarter to 31 December, with like-for-like food sales declining a more modest 0.2%.
The company said that it is pushing ahead with a planned increase in opening hours across its retail estate to meet customer demand.
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