Nearly a quarter of all Sainsbury's delivery drivers at its distribution centre in Birmingham are at risk of losing their jobs as the retailer plans to reorganise its supply chain network. Around 70 of the 269 drivers at the 700,000 sq ft Hams Hall distribution centre are going through a 30-day consultation process, which is due to finish at the end of the month.

“Following changes that have been made to improve the efficiency of our supply chain network, we are proposing a reduction in the number of transport colleagues who work at our Hams Hall distribution centre,” said a spokeswoman. “We have opened lots of new depots and just reorganised the volumes that are going through each of those,” she added, highlighting sites in Tamworth and Northampton as well as a number of other smaller ones that had opened in the area during the past few years.

Stores and customers would not be affected by the move and the exact number of losses would be determined once the consultation process finished, added the spokeswoman.

“We’ve had several constructive meetings to discuss ways to reduce the number of redundancies. Both the representatives and the company have developed options that will be explored further in the coming days, with a view to reaching agreement.”

However, one driver claimed the retailer was having to make more use of other depots because it was finding it difficult to process the required volumes through the Hams Hall depot, following a refit last year.

“We can’t get back to the volumes the place was picking before, so the supermarkets are using other depots,” said a driver from the Hams Hall depot. “The silos and running belts that transported the goods to all the floors were ripped out as part of the refit. Now it’s more like a normal warehouse, with stuff on the floor, and it seems much slower as a result. We are supposed to pick 1.7 million cases a week, but now we are barely hitting 1.3 million.”