Morrisons today (9 January) confirmed the closure of its Aylesford and Bristol distribution depots. It is expected that 1,600 jobs will be lost as a result.

Morrisons said that this action was being undertaken following a review of the combined Safeway and Morrisons distribution network conducted in September 2005.

"After considering alternatives to site closure regrettably no viable options have been found and following conclusion of the formal consultation process, we have now confirmed that these depots will close," the company said.

The company also said that it was hoping to minimise redundancies by finding some individuals alternative roles within the company.

Although Morrisons issued a statement that "union representatives at the sites recently informed us that there was an acceptance of the reasons given for potential closure," it seems that the GMB union representing the workers has adopted a more critical stance. The union told press that the lay-offs were the "direct consequence" of the company's acquisition of Safeway. Moreover, the union says that of those made redundant, 175 women were offered worse terms than male employees. The union said that it would file sex discrimination cases if the situation was not rectified.

Morrisons announcement follows the December closure of a third site in Warrington, Cheshire, with the loss of 700 jobs.