Tesco will axe deli counters at around 90 stores as part of measures to save costs, it has confirmed.
Speculation mounted over the weekend that the company was planning to ditch the counters in its largest stores as well as review other aspects of its food business.
The supermarket chain said yesterday that the remaining 700 stores will trade with either a full or flexible counter offer for customers.
It explained: “Over recent years, our convenience and online businesses have continued to grow, as have our core grocery and fresh departments in our large stores. Not only are customers shopping in different ways, but we know that they have less time available to shop too – which means they are using our counters less frequently.”
It will also switch out staff kitchens for self-service systems. Currently one third of its stores provide a hot food service and, over recent years, it claims there has been reduced demand for this.
“Over the last three years we have been rolling out new self-service colleague kitchen areas in a number of stores, and we are now extending this to all remaining stores with a hot food service. This change will impact the people working in our colleague rooms, who are employed by third party caterers, and we are working with them to provide as much support as we can,” the company stated.
Reports had suggested that the company’s in-store bakeries were in the firing line as well, but Tesco categorically said that was not the case.
“Contrary to media reports over the weekend, we do not plan to make any significant changes to bakeries this year,” it said.
Up to 9,000 workers will be impacted by the restructuring measures, although Tesco claims up to half could be redeployed to other customer-facing roles.
Jason Tarry, CEO of the UK & Republic of Ireland, stated: “In our four years of turnaround we’ve made good progress, but the market is challenging and we need to continually adapt to remain competitive and respond to how customers want to shop. We’re making changes to our UK stores and head office to simplify what we do and how we do it, so we’re better able to meet the needs of our customers. This will impact some of our colleagues and our commitment is to minimise this as much as possible and support our colleagues throughout.”