Asda store

Asda is making the cost-saving move in nearly 200 smaller stores

Asda is to remove more than 200 night shift manager roles and switch more than 4,000 night workers from overnight to morning and twilight shifts, as part of a major shake-up of its store operations.

The cost-saving move in nearly 200 smaller stores is expected to save Asda millions by removing the premiums paid to staff working at night.

A consultation with staff began this week and Asda stressed the overall level of store hours would be unaffected, though it could not rule out redundancies.

The supermarket also revealed it was closing seven of its 254 in-store pharmacies and cutting staffing hours by 22% across its 23 in-store Post Office branches, in moves that will affect another 250 staff.

It will replace the overnight ambient and frozen shifts in 184 smaller superstores, with colleagues restocking ambient products between 7pm and midnight, and frozen products between 7am and 1pm instead.

Asda said the changes to shift patterns and removal of night managers were part of ongoing efforts to improve customer experience in its stores and drive sustainable growth.

It added the proposed change would mean more colleagues were on the shop floor during opening hours. The move followed trials that delivered improvements in customer satisfaction and product availability, it added.

But if it goes ahead, 211 night shift manager roles will go and circa 4,137 hourly-paid colleagues will see their hours change, with the removal of night shift premiums currently paid on top of their existing hourly rate.

Asda added some stores would see an increase to section leader headcounts, which might provide additional redeployment opportunities for the managers affected.

As part of the other changes, 23 Post Office managers and 200 other staff will be affected, as well as 48 staff and 14 pharmacists in the pharmacy cutbacks.

Asda is not the first supermarket to target changes to work hours, with others, including Tesco and Sainsbury’s, having already made changes affecting thousands of night shift workers.

Tesco has carried out a series of changes to shift hours and reduced the number of team manager roles since 2015. Sainsbury’s revealed it was scrapping the night shift in 140 supermarkets in 2017.

“The retail sector is evolving at pace and it is vital we review changing customer preferences, along with our own ways of working, to ensure we are operating as efficiently as possible, so that we can continue to invest and grow our business,” said Asda retail director Ken Towle.

“We are now entering a period of consultation with our colleagues on these proposals. We recognise this will be a difficult time for them and will do all we can to support them through this process.”