Wilko becomes latest high street retailer to announce redundancies

PUBLISHED: 07:04 12 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:11 12 August 2017

Wilko store on St Stephen's Street, Norwich.

Wilko store on St Stephen's Street, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

The embattled retail sector was dealt another blow as Wilko became the latest high street name to announce redundancies.

The group has entered consultation with nearly 4,000 staff across the UK – bemoaning the rise in costs as a result of the Brexit-hit pound.

The discount chain has eight stores across the region but would not elaborate on how many of the 3,900 roles at risk were in the area.

It said it is consulting with its store supervisory team about a new management structure, alongside trade union the GMB, and will create 1,000 new supervisor roles as part of the shake-up.

Wilko employs 20,000 people in 406 stores across the country. In this region it has stores in Norwich, Dereham, Thetford, King’s Lynn, Mildenhall, Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Colchester.

MORE: Dozens of jobs could be at risk at Asda in Norwich

The move comes after Wilko posted an 80% plunge in pre-tax profits to £5.1m in the year to January 28, with the firm pointing to “uncertain economic and geopolitical events”, the collapse in sterling and the introduction of the national living wage.

Inflation, which has soared since the Brexit vote sent the British currency tumbling, hit its highest level for nearly four years in May at 2.9%, before easing back to 2.6%.

The net result has been an increase in import costs for retailers, who have then passed this on to already hard-pressed consumers.

Anthony Houghton, Wilko’s retail director, said: “Following independent studies we identified a legacy of retail structures that created complexity to manage which aren’t simple, fair or transparent for our team members.

“The simpler newly defined store structure will give teams greater variety within their roles and result in more team hours on the shop floor, delivering a better customer experience.”

The announcement comes following similar moves at other retailers.

Asda announced on Thursday that 359 roles were under consultation at its Drayton High Road store in Norwich, as part of a national restructure, with 30 to 40 staff expected to lose their jobs or see their hours cut.

Tesco said earlier this year it is taking the axe to 1,200 jobs at its head office and 1,100 at a call centre as part of a major cost-cutting drive and Sainsbury’s followed suit, cutting 1,000 jobs.

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