Asda is to axe hundreds of head office jobs at Asda House in Leeds following what many analysts believe was a poor Christmas for the supermarket chain.
Asda confirmed that the number of jobs going would be in the “low hundreds”. It employs 3,000 staff at its head office.
Asda is speaking to employees this morning about who will be affected
A spokesperson said: “It’s well documented that in recent years, customers have radically changed the way they shop. We were the first of the big four to recognise this and launch a new strategy in 2013 yet the external pressures have accelerated at an increasingly rapid rate over the last 18 months.
“As a result, the industry faces major challenges and the certainty of permanent structural change. In the context of this, we also have to further change the way we do business.
“Today, we have started to talk to our colleagues in head office functions about what this means for them. We have made some difficult but necessary decisions but we must discuss these with our colleagues before we talk publicly.”
Analysts believe Asda will announce a 3.0 to 3.5 per cent fall in like-for-like sales over Christmas, trailing its main rivals, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.
This comes on top of a November update, which revealed that like-for-like sales fell 4.5% in the 13 weeks to September 30.
At the time, Asda chief executive Andy Clarke said the decline highlighted a “challenging” quarter for the group, but put faith in his recently-announced turnaround plan - dubbed Project Renewal - to bolster trading.
Asda, which is owned by US retail giant Walmart, recently announced another £500m investment in price cuts as it attempts to stem the tide of customers to the discounters, Aldi and Lidl, which are on average 10 per cent cheaper than the big four.
Over Christmas Morrisons posted a 0.2% rise in same-stores sales for the nine weeks to January 3, while Tesco reported a 1.3% rise in like-for-like sales over the six weeks to January 9.
Sainsbury’s posted a 0.4 like-for-like sales fall in the 15 weeks to January 9, which was lower than expected.
Asda announced a fresh 18-month overhaul in October which will see it slow store expansion in London, ease up on plans to build more stand-alone petrol stations across the UK and scale back the rollout of its ‘’click and collect’’ scheme as it seeks to cut costs.
However, it will speed up investment to revamp 95 of its largest stores and spend more money on offering customers lower prices in an attempt to take on the discounters.
It will also permanently close its business-to-business sales operation, which focused on selling direct to other businesses, in the next few months.