Morrisons’ in-store management restructure, which has left 2,600 staff facing redundancy, is set to kick off in the coming days, with 89 stores earmarked to be included in the first wave and the rest of the estate to follow next year.

The staff consultation process is still ongoing despite it being more than 45 days since it was first announced by Morrisons on 17 June.

However, documents seen by The Grocer suggest plans are now at an advanced stage, and the retailer is set to begin implementing some of the changes imminently.

In June, Morrisons said it was looking to create a “simpler management structure” after discovering some stores have up to seven tiers of management.

The new structure will bring together department managers and supervisor positions into a single, smaller tier of team managers. From this group, Morrisons said it would “promote 1,000 into new duty manager roles to strengthen the senior management team in each store.”

The documents show 89 stores will go through this process in ‘Phase A,’ including the retailer’s fresh lab store in Kirkstall, Leeds, and one of its newest stores in Crawley, West Sussex.

Minutes from the latest national consultation meeting held on Tuesday (5 August) reveal the Phase A stores will be used “to test, review, learn and adjust our implementation process.”

Once that has happened, Morrisons will confirm the running order for other stores, the minutes suggest. It was agreed at the meeting that the full rollout plans would be communicated to all non-Phase A stores by 21 November.

Tuesday’s meeting was the seventh and final between Morrisons, Usdaw, the Supervisory, Administrative and Technical Association (SATA) and representatives of affected staff since the consultation was announced. The minutes state Morrisons is producing an implementation pack, which will be distributed to Phase A stores on Tuesday (12 August).

They also suggest employees affected by the changes will go through a selection process for the new team leader and duty manager roles. This assessment process will cover three areas - verbal and numerical reasoning and behavioural profiling; a structured interview; and technical knowledge.

Morrisons CEO Dalton Philips and group HR director Emily Lawson attended the final meeting this week. Both thanked the committee “for their hard work and commitment to doing a very difficult task in such a professional way.”

Philips was also quoted as saying he was proud of the way colleagues who were at risk had continued to look after customers and give their full commitment to the business.

Morrisons did not comment on the minutes.

Change at the top?

Reports emerged last weekend suggesting Ian McLeod, commercial director at Australia’s Wesfarmers group, could be a potential replacement for CEO Dalton Philips should chairman Sir Ian Gibson and his successor, Andrew Higginson, decide a change at the top is needed.

The Grocer reported in February that the former Asda man would be open to a return to the UK. He is due back in the country for a visit at the end of the month, giving him an opportunity to meet any prospective employers.

He is a recognised turnaround specialist, having completed that task at Halfords and Coles. His promotion at Wesfarmers last month was seen as a tactic to keep him out of the clutches of UK operators.