Jobs at risk in Tesco Northern Ireland shops as it 'simplifies' processes
Staff numbers and hours of work to be affected in move
Jobs at Tesco's 50 Northern Ireland stores, which employ around 10,000 staff, are at risk as it plans to "simplify and reduce" processes across its UK shops.
The move will see the culling of 4,300 staff UK-wide, with a majority of workers being let go from Metro stores.
Other positions will be cut at some Express and larger stores, Tesco said. A spokesman added that "all Metro stores will be affected" including Northern Ireland's only Metro store on Royal Avenue in Belfast.
Bosses want to overhaul the Metro stores, which are bigger than Express stores but smaller than larger supermarkets, saying that shoppers tend to use them for top-up shops, rather than filling bigger baskets.
The company said: "The Metro format was originally designed for larger, weekly shops, but today nearly 70% of customers use them as convenience stores, buying food for that day."
Among the changes expected is the introduction of a new flexible working model that will ensure stores are adequately staffed during busy and quiet periods.
"Leaner management structures" will also be put in place and some stores could see a reduction in opening hours. There will also be some localised changes in some large stores, which will see us streamlining operational routines, including our processes for moving stock around the store and filling shelves," Tesco said.
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Jason Tarry, UK and Republic of Ireland Tesco chief executive, said the "challenging" and "evolving" retail environment was behind the move.
He said: "With increasing cost pressures, we have to continue to review the way we run our stores to ensure we reflect the way our customers are shopping and do so in the most efficient way.
"We do not take any decision which impacts colleagues lightly, but have to make sure we remain relevant for customers and operate a sustainable business now and in the future."
Aodhan Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said the move is part of a "retail reinvention".
He said: "Retail has gone through more change over the past five years than it has over the previous 50 years. What we have seen is retailers are having to adapt to survive. We're talking a retail reinvention rather than a retail armageddon, but everyone from the small corner store to the largest retailer has to adapt."
Mr Connolly said changes on the high street have been consumer driven with shoppers "not spending like they used to" and said changes to policies and rates were needed to keep up.
"In Northern Ireland, with no Executive, there's no way of getting the business rates system changed. And even though it's hard work in the UK to change government policy, it's even harder here because we don't have the means to do it.
"The longer we are without Stormont, the more we fall behind our neighbours in Great Britain and the south."
Retail union USDAW said it will be entering into a consultation with Tesco and is calling for government action. Pauline Foulkes, USDAW national officer, said: "We need the government to address the worries and concerns of shopworkers and our members."