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Online retailer Shop Direct to close three sites, impacting nearly 2,000 jobs

Shop Direct plans to cut staff as it moves its distribution from Greater Manchester to the East Midlands.

Online retailer Shop Direct is closing three of its sites in Greater Manchester, impacting close to 2,000 jobs.

The firm, which owns Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com, will close its sites in Shaw, Little Hulton and Raven from mid-2020 onwards as part of plans to move operations to a new automated warehouse in the East Midlands.

The move has put the jobs of 1,177 Shop Direct employees and 815 agency workers in doubt.

Development of the new site in the East Midlands will start in May, and is expected to be operational in 2021.

The site will be fully automated, which Shop Direct said would allow it to respond more quickly to changing consumer demand.

Around 500 new jobs will be created at the new site, and during peak periods Shop Direct expects to employ between 200 and 300 agency workers.

“This is a tough day for the business and we know how difficult this news will be to hear for our teams in Shaw, Little Hulton and Raven,” said Derek Harding, interim group chief executive of Shop Direct.

“However, these proposals are necessary for our future and to enable us to continue to grow and meet rising customer expectations.”

All of the affected Shop Direct employees are now consulting with the group about the changes, with the Usdaw union supporting staff.

The retailer is owned by the billionaire Barclay brothers, David and Frederick, who also own the Daily Telegraph newspaper titles.

“For Shop Direct to continue to meet customer demand, the business now needs a new, purpose-built and automated facility in a central, well-connected location, that can accommodate all one-man fulfilment and returns operations on one site, and that provides room for continued expansion,” the company added.

Shop Direct is investing £200 million to build the new site. The factory’s automated technology, and its central location, will allow Shop Direct to make next-day deliveries on orders made until midnight. Currently, customers can only receive products on the next day if they order before 7pm.

Harding said: “The fact that it is in a different place means that we do not anticipate people to move.

“One of the important things for us is that we are giving them this information now.”

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