Sainsbury's is going to close 420 branches of non-food subsidiary Argos and remove all its service counters for meat and fish from supermarkets. The operation threatens 3,500 jobs.
The 420 stand-alone Argos stores will close by March 2024, reports the BBC. Sainsbury's said it wants to integrate 150 Argos outlets and 150-200 collect points into its supermarkets.
Sainsbury's bought the non-food retailer four years ago. The 120 outlets that were not reopened after the first lockdown in March will now remain permanently closed. After the restructuring, some 100 independent Argos stores would remain. The operation should lead to savings of around 600 million pound (663 million euro).
In the supermarkets, the service counters for delicacies, meat and fish will be closed. According to the retailer, the measures are a response to changing consumption patterns and the growth of online shopping. Analysts see a saving operation in the first place: self-service is cheaper and Sainsbury's has to make savings to cope with the intense competition in the UK.
All in all, some 3,500 jobs are disappearing in both companies. However, CEO Simon Roberts is confident that most of the affected workers will be able to remain in employment, albeit in a different role than today.
Sainsbury's also announced its half-year results. The chain recorded a loss of 137 million pound (151 million euro), entirely due to the costs of closing Argos shops. Without taking those one-off costs into account, there was a profit of 301 million pound (333 million euro), writes the Financial Times. On a comparable basis, the group's turnover increased by 6.9%.