MORE than 300 workers at Tesco stores in Yorkshire discovered their jobs were at risk today after the supermarket giant disclosed the locations of 43 store closures.
Five stores in the region have been identified for closure by new chief executive Dave Lewis - the biggest is the retailer’s superstore in Doncaster which employs 125 staff.
Tesco has earmarked seven UK superstores and six Homeplus outlets among the unprofitable shops that will shut, with a total of 2,000 staff affected.
Besides Doncaster, the other Yorkshire stores set to close are the Tesco Metro shops at Crossgates, Leeds, which employs a team of 57; in Mexborough where there are 55 staff; and Woodseats, Sheffield (50). A dozen Metro shops face being closed.
The Tesco Express store in Sheffield Manor, which employs 24 staff, is one of 18 smaller conveniences stores also identified for closure.
Consultation with all workers affected are due to start now, Tesco said.
Mr Lewis said: “The decision to close the stores has been exceptionally difficult to take. I recognise it will affect many hard-working colleagues, our customers and local communities.
“Our priority is to explain what this announcement means for our colleagues and, wherever possible, offer them alternative roles with Tesco.”
On behalf of affected employees, Pauline Foulkes, national officer for the Usdaw union (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers), said: “This is devastating news for over 2,000 dedicated staff in the 43 Tesco stores across the UK, who have worked hard to make their shop viable during a difficult time for the company.
“We will now enter into full and meaningful consultation meetings on this proposal, where we will look closely at the company’s business case for the closures.
“Our priority is to maximise employment within Tesco, seek redeployment opportunities for members, where possible, and to keep job losses to a minimum.”
In addition to the shutting of shops, the group recently announced it would shelve plans to open 49 new stores.
They included Tesco’s £22 million Chatteris store in Cambridgeshire which had been earmarked to open its doors to customers two months ago, but has ended up on the scrapheap without serving a single customer.
It was anticipated the store would create around 250 jobs but it has remained empty since its completion.
Staff at Britain’s biggest supermarket will also be hit by the closure of the group’s final salary pension scheme.
Tesco shares have fallen by more than 40 per cent over a nightmarish 2014 which saw a string of profit warnings, the departure of Mr Lewis’s predecessor Philip Clarke, and a £263 million accounting scandal - being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.
The group has named turnaround specialist Matt Davies, currently boss of Halfords, to lead its UK and Ireland business from June.
It also plans to slash capital spending to £1 billion for the next financial year, the same as it spent in the first six months of 2014/15 and less than the £2.7bn invested in the 2013/14 financial year.