Tesco May Announce Closure of Fresh Food Counters Putting 15,000 Jobs at Risk

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Tesco, The British multinational retail giant is set to reduce its workforce by 15,000 in order to get its accounts in order which were never normalized after the 2014 exaggerated profits scandal. The aggressive cost-cutting operation will lead to job losses in thousands in its deli counters.

According to reports, the latest round of cost optimization will involve the closure of meat, fish and delicatessen counters and also the downgrading of bakeries counters in its stores. The decision to replace staff counters with vending machines may put 15,000 jobs at risk.

The company is in deep financial mess after the 2014 scandal involving some of its senior executives who were charged for artificially inflating profits by over 250 million pounds. The company has not yet regained a sound financial stature as in February 2016 Tesco reported that its pension deficit has ballooned from 3.2 billion pounds to 5.9 billion pounds. The job cuts is a part Tesco’s chief executive Dave Lewis’s plans to reduce operational cost by 1.5 billion pounds.

The jobs at risk include butcher, baker and fishmonger and counter staff at the store giant. The new plan will cover most of the 732 largest stores where some counters will face complete closure while others will face a reduction in working hours. The Guardian reported that another layer of senior staff may be eliminated from the store management as part of the new plan to save costs.

Since Mr. Lewis took over in 2014, he has persistently pushed for cost adjustments to save the company. In 2018, he laid off 1,700 employees from Tesco’s payroll by banishing middle layer management. The closure of Cardiff call center led to a loss of 1,100 jobs. The retail company employs 300,000 people in UK and has around 3400 stores. However, keeping aside the strain on its financial resources Tesco’s business model faces threat from Aldi and Lidl, the fast growing German discounters.

Tesco launched a Jack’s, a new discount chain for stemming the flow of customers to cheaper rivals Aldi and Lidl; however, two thirds of UK households in the Christmas season preferred Lidl and Aldi over Jack’s. Alongside Sainsbury and Asda are in negotiations for a possible merger worth 15 billion pounds. The merger if approved by UK’s competition regulator will further blow a dent in Tesco’s market leadership. The Sainsbury-Asda merged entity will overtake Tesco to become UK’s largest private sector employer.

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