Belgian supermarket chain Colruyt is introducing night shifts in its stores early next tear, in order to prepare orders for its click and collect service Collect & Go. The management hopes to get the unions' agreement as soon as possible.
Stores prepare online orders
Starting from January, Colruyt wants to extend the working period from 7h-20h30 to 5h-24h in nine test stores. Employees would have to use these extra 5.5 hours to prepare online orders, as this service is growing so fast that there is no room any more to accommodate that service in the current working hours. The introduction of home deliveries, also planned next year, would create too much of a strain on store employees, the chain fears.
Last year Colruyt Group reached an online turnover of 370 million euros, but this figure is so rising rapidly that the stores have to accept part of the preparation as the two distribution centres are already flooded with work. "Stores are more efficient for fulfilment anyway", HR director Wim Mertens explains in Belgian business newspaper De Tijd: "products arrive in bulk and the collect points are in the stores already. A decentralised approach also allows us to create jobs everywhere in the country, rather than in just a few distribution centres."
The pilot will start with one or two extra full-time employees in each of the nine participating stores, meaning up to eighteen new jobs, if the management can strike a deal with the unions: the latter want a bonus of 50 % for the extra hours, management offers only 30 % and says more is not sustainable given the foreign competition. One union representative said that most employees "know online food sales are very important for Colruyt", but that they have to find the balance between employees' demands for a predictable working schedule and the need for flexibility to avoid that foreign players steal Colruyt's potential market share.