According to Asda, the shift in strategy has been prompted by a change in consumer purchasing behaviour, which has seen demand for speciality bread, wraps, bagels and pancakes outstrip traditional loaves.
The retail giant currently operates a model in which baked goods are made once a day, but said this is proving to be restrictive.
“The current in-store bakery model has restricted our ability to respond to changing customer demands and offer them the specialty products and freshly baked goods they want to buy throughout the day,” said Derek Lawlor, chief merchandising officer.
“The changes we are proposing will deliver a much better and more consistent bakery offering for customers across all our stores. We know these proposed changes will be unsettling for colleagues and our priority is to support them during this process.”
The move, however, could put more than a thousand jobs at risk.
Asda operates 341 stores across the UK that employ more than 1,200 bakery workers. The company said the priority will be to redeploy as many employees as possible to others roles within Asda, with redundancy being the last option.
“We know these proposed changes will be unsettling for colleagues and our priority is to support them during this process,” said Lawlor.
While one door closes, though, another is opening.
Roger Burnley, Asda CEO and president, said the pandemic has accelerated change in the retail sector with an increase in home shopping. He added there are plans to create an additional 4,500 positions for Asda’s online operations this year.
“Our plans to transform the business will result in more roles being created than those we propose to remove and our absolute aim is to ensure as many colleagues as possible stay with us, as well as creating the opportunity to welcome new people to our business,” said Burnley.
In October 2020, Mohsin and Zuber Issa – the billionaire brothers behind TDR Capital and petrol empire EG Group, which operates more than 6,000 forecourts – secured a £6.8bn deal to acquire Asda from US owners Walmart.