Thousands of Tesco jobs at risk as grocer looks to cut costs

Supermarket giant to scrap meat, fish and deli counters in store overhaul, reports say

Supermarket giant Tesco is set to cut about 15,000 jobs and close meat, fish and delicatessen counters as part of a deep cost-cutting plan in its UK operation, according to reports in the British press on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for Tesco Ireland declined to comment on the report or whether similar measures were being planned for Tesco’s operations in the Republic.

“We’re always looking at ways to run our business more simply and efficiently. Whenever we make changes in our business, colleagues are always the first to know,” Tesco Ireland said.

The statement echoed Tesco plc's only official comment on the story, first reported in the Mail on Sunday.


The newspaper also said the retailer would overhaul in-store bakeries, using frozen instead of fresh dough, and replace staff canteens with vending machines.

Some meat, fish and deli counters would close, while others would have their opening hours cut, it said.

The plans were expected to affect the majority of Tesco’s 732 larger stores in the UK.

Tesco had 440,000 employees at the end of February 2018, according to its annual report.

But under chief executive Dave Lewis, the retailer has reduced staff by almost 29,000 workers a year in its last three financial years.

Mr Lewis is expected to update Tesco staff early this week on the chain’s latest cost-cutting plan and its unions will have to be consulted before any redundancies.

Tesco, which is Britain’s biggest retailer, was one of the few to beat UK sales forecasts over a difficult Christmas period for the sector.

However, the company has struggled to recover the level of profits it enjoyed before a 2014 accounting scandal.

Tesco Ireland, meanwhile, had little to celebrate in its most recent financial quarter, with the retailer recording flat like-for-like sales over the 19 weeks ending January 5th, amid increased competition in the sector.

The company reclaimed its title as the supermarket with the biggest market share in the Republic for a period in 2018, but then slipped back in what is a long-term battle with Dunnes Stores and SuperValu.

The most recent figures from retail analysts Kantar Worldpanel put it in second place with a market share of 22.3 per cent, behind the 23 per cent share held by Dunnes and ahead of the 21.8 per cent share held by SuperValu.

Tesco Ireland employs about 14,500 people. The company, alongside rival Dunnes, was one of the employers condemned last year by trade union Mandate, which claimed it had failed to respect collective bargaining rights. – Additional reporting: Bloomberg

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics