French hypermarket chain Auchan is laying off 1,475 employees as part of a major reorganisation: a change of strategy is now necessary as customers are buying more and more online and less and less in stores.
"Renaissance" for 2022
"Hypermarkets are less successful", says Jean-Denis Deweine, confirming a trend that was already evident before the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Covid-19 has accelerated and intensified the evolution towards digital and local, and the French supermarket group has "probably been too slow to develop new models", the CEO reports to RTL.
It is therefore time to change things: in the wake of the "Renaissance for 2022" project, the retailer has made 1,475 employees redundant. 377 new jobs are expected to be created, bringing the net total of jobs lost to 1,088. This is the second wave of short-term layoffs since Auchan had already laid off more than 600 office employees in January and closed 21 shops in 2019.
300 pick-up points for pedestrians
The company aims to double online food sales by 2022 and will focus on consistent supply chain management from supplier to customer. Digitisation of the offer and acceleration of the 'customer journey' are some of the key elements. For example, the group is focusing on pick-up points: there will be 300 pedestrian 'drives' in French city centres, of which four have already opened in Lille, the home town.
Important changes are also taking place in hypermarkets: these large supermarkets will increasingly become delivery platforms, but also production sites: the kitchens, which previously supplied the catering departments, will also prepare take-away meals for the group's other sales channels. In addition, in buildings that have become too large, there will be sections reserved for other non-food retailers, such as the sister chains Boulanger or Kiabi.
On the other hand, nine of the eleven electronic repair centres are closing their doors and the customer service counters in hypermarkets are disappearing. Auchan wants to digitise the entire customer service department and can therefore do without 434 employees. The meat cutting workshop in Lieusaint also closes: 57 people work there.
Although the company does not dare to save any costs on the cashier hosts and hostesses (who have become heroes in these times of coronavirus), 124 redundancies are planned for the cashier positions. Auchan wants to further combine traditional, automatic and contactless cash registers.