Supermarket retailer Somerfield is putting 440 jobs on the line by closing two distribution depots in the south of England.

The closures will affect 160 staff at the Rainham depot, Essex, and 280 staff at the Welwyn Garden City depot, Hertfordshire.

Logistics group Exel manages the distribution depots – which will be shut down no later than April 2006.

This follows a strategic review of Somerfield’s distribution network, concluding the depots are no longer needed.

Somerfield said in a statement: “It has become clear that surplus distribution capacity exists in the South of England.
“As a result, there is no longer a requirement for distribution depots to be located in Rainham and Welwyn Garden City.”
Somerfield and Exel have said they are in close consultation with all employees and union representatives and that every effort is being made to find alternative employment or redeployment for staff where possible.
“This decision does not reflect the hard work and commitment shown by Exel employees at the site, and the Company will strive to achieve the best possible outcome for all its people,” concluded the statement.
Somerfield’s acquisition by a consortium consisting of Apax Partners, Barclays Capital and the Tchenguiz Family Trust took effect on effect from 21 December 2005, having been reported by just-food in November.