Sainsbury’s to ‘simplify’ instore bakery service

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Sainsbury's is overhauling its instore bakery model. Pic: GettyImages/andresr
Sainsbury's is overhauling its instore bakery model. Pic: GettyImages/andresr

Related tags Sainsbury's instore bakery category Unite the union Redundancy coronavirus

The UK supermarket giant has announced plans to axe 200 cafes, end its hot food range in 34 stores and ‘re-evaluate’ its bakery counter setup in 54 stores – putting more than 2,000 jobs at risk.

Sainsbury’s said its in-store bakeries will change from making goods from scratch onsite to being premade elsewhere and shipped in.

The move is part of a wider strategy to transform its dining, takeaway and home delivery platforms across 250 stores over the next three years.

The retailer said it will open 30 more instore restaurant hubs in partnership with Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), which runs the Caffe Carluccio’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Ed’s Diner and Slim Chickens brands. The new concept – named The Restaurant Hub – is already underway at Sainsbury’s Selly Oak store in Birmingham. It is also planning to open 30 Starbucks sites across its sites over the next year.

Around 67 Sainsbury’s cafes will stay open, but are under review, said the company.

Thinking of the consumer

Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts said, “Through our trials with BRG and Starbucks, we have learnt that we can offer customers a much better eat-in and takeaway experience working with partners.

“We are totally focused on improving what we can deliver for our customers and, at the same time, working hard to make our business simpler.

“We are really excited about this new customer offer we will be rolling out over the next two to three years across many of our stores.

He added, “As we go through this period of transition, we have taken the difficult decision to close 200 of our cafes next month.

“Of course, we understand this is very unsettling for our colleagues, but we must keep adapting our business to make sure we are offering customers the best possible food and drink at affordable prices.”

He added the chain is ‘absolutely committed’ in supporting affected staff, who will be encouraged to explore alternative roles within the wider business.

Helped Sainsbury’s flourish during the pandemic

The plan, however, has been slammed by Unite, which has demanded that Sainsbury’s must ‘rule out compulsory redundancies’.

According to the UK union – which represents around 9,00 Sainsbury’s staff – the retail giant purportedly has a longer term intention to close all of its remaining cafés with an unspecified number of coffee bars and cafes taken over by third party providers.

Unite national officer for food, drink and agriculture, Bev Clarkson, said, “Our members showed great loyalty to Sainsbury’s during the pandemic. They served their communities during lockdown and ensured Sainsbury’s flourished when other businesses flatlined.

“Now Sainsbury’s must repay them by keeping job losses to an absolute minimum and ruling out compulsory redundancies. Staff that transfer to new café operators must have their wages and terms and conditions protected. Those that want to stay with Sainsbury’s need to be provided with new roles in the company.

“Unite is there to defend our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and that is exactly what we will be doing at Sainsbury’s.”

Sainsbury’s has already cut 1,150 jobs under a bakery restructuring last March, following the axing of around 3,500 workers in November 2020 due to the closure of fresh meat and fish counters.

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