Source: Central Co-op

The society has entered into consultation talks with trade body Usdaw

Central Co-op is closing its three depots in Leicester and moving operations to Co-op Group-managed distribution network LIDIA, affecting up to 400 roles.

The society said its priority will be supporting colleagues during the transition period, identifying ways to avoid redundancy and redeploying those who desire alternative roles within Central Co-op or the LIDIA network.

It has entered into consultation talks with trade body Usdaw, where reps and officials will interrogate the company’s case for the transfer of distribution operations.

“This is devastating news for staff affected by the company’s proposal, our members are deeply concerned about their future employment prospects,” said Usdaw national officer John Gorle.

“We welcome that Central Co-op has given an early commitment to offering alternative roles to all staff affected, both within Central Co-op and the Co-operative Group.

“Our priorities are to avoid redundancies and secure the best support package possible. In the meantime we are providing our members with the advice, support and representation they need during this period of uncertainty.”

Set to join the network from 2024, Central Co-op said the decision to move to LIDIA would allow the business to improve its offer and expand into more communities.

LIDIA, which stands for Logistics Infrastructure Development to Improve Availability, serves over 4,000 stores with 13 distribution centres. These include the Co-op Group’s own stores, as well as the majority of independent co-operatives in the UK.

Central Co-op CEO Debbie Robinson said: “The commitment and experience of our distribution teams is amongst the best in the logistics industry and they do an amazing job keeping our shops running.

“As we grow and invest in the society to support communities, we need to be ready for the future and we have now outgrown our current distribution facilities. I know this is going to be a difficult time for some of our colleagues and our priority will be supporting them and we are able to offer them alternative roles, either within Central Co-op or the LIDIA network.”