Asda has said that it will begin consultations with staff over changes that could lead to a reported loss of up to 2,500 jobs next year.
The news, first reported by the Press Association, comes as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) conducts a second stage investigation into the proposed takeover of the supermarket by rival Sainsbury’s.
Potential redundancy notices have been issued to workers across departments including back office, petrol stations and bakery departments, according to the GMB, the union representing Asda staff.
An Asda spokesperson said: “In a competitive retail market, where customers rightly expect great value and ease of service, we must always look at how we can work more quickly and efficiently for them – and inevitably, that means we need to consider changing the roles we need our colleagues to do or the hours needed in particular parts of our stores.”
“We believe the proposed changes we are consulting on would allow us to do a better job for our customers. We also recognise that discussions about potential change aren’t easy. If the decision is taken to implement the proposed changes we would work with our colleagues to look at the potential impact of these proposals on them.”
Gary Carter, national officer for GMB, said: “With all the speculation surrounding the proposed Sainsbury's merger and potential sell-offs of stores, this news will not put anyone's mind at rest.”
Earlier this year, Sainsbury's announced plans to acquire Asda in a £12bn deal which could shrink the number of supermarkets in the UK. As a merged entity, the British supermarkets would command almost £1 in every £3 spent on groceries.
The CMA said last month that its investigation into the merger found that there was a “realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition (SLC)”.
It added: “The CMA believes that the merger may give rise to a realistic prospect of an SLC in many of these local areas if Sainsbury’s and Asda are insufficiently constrained by other local competitors.”
It identified 463 local areas where the supermarkets overlap.
The watchdog said earlier this month that the impact of budget rivals Aldi and Lidl on the supermarket industry is a focus of its probe into the merger. The German discounters recently upped their stakes in the supermarket business at the expense of their bigger competitors.