Asda is to close one of its major online delivery centres, putting 260 jobs at risk.
The supermarket said it was entering into consultation with staff at its Enfield home shopping centre over proposals to close the facility in North London.
The site, which only opened in 2010, employs 261 colleagues and delivers home shopping to 4,500 customers each week.
The proposal comes ahead of plans for a merger between Asda and Sainsbury’s, which has prompted fears of major job losses across the companies.
However, Asda said the move was down to limitations for modernisation at the site, having invested in its digital capabilities and opened two fully automated home shopping centres in London over the last 18 months - one in Heston in July 2017 and one in Dartford two months ago.
It said the sites had created more than 700 new jobs and provided increased capacity, improved accuracy and faster fulfilment to meet customer demand.
The supermarket reported its grocery home shopping business grew by 8.3% last quarter.
“In a competitive retail market, where customers rightly expect great value and ease of service, we are always looking at how we can improve our operations to meet their expectations,” said Asda vice president of grocery home shopping, Simon Gregg.
“Despite great efforts by our colleagues at Enfield, restrictions on the site mean we are not able to make the necessary further improvements to meet the speed of fulfilment and product ranges that our customers now expect. Therefore, we’ve entered a consultation process with colleagues on proposals to close the facility.
“Our current proposals involve expanding capacity in our Heston centre and discussing options for colleagues to take on roles in other neighbouring stores. Whilst conversations about change are never easy, we would always work to find new opportunities for impacted colleagues, with redundancy as a last resort.”
The GMB union, which represents staff at the site, accused Asda of going back on its word over assurances there would be no job losses due to the proposed merger.
“We are disappointed to hear that Asda has felt the need to start this proposal despite reassurances that there would be no depot or store closures,” said Keith Dixon, GMB regional organiser.
“The proposal to close the Asda Enfield home shopping centre is likely to have a negative effect on our members and the local economy.
“GMB will be actively involved throughout the consultation to attempt to secure positions for our GMB members.”