Sainsburys Restaurant Hub

Sainsbury’s is set to restructure its eat-in and takeaway operations in 250 of its supermarkets over the next three years

Sainsbury’s is set to close 200 of its in-store cafés this spring, with 2,000 colleagues likely to be affected.

The retailer said staff affected would be “prioritisied” for vacant roles in Sainsbury’s stores and “encouraged to explore alternative roles” within the business.

CEO Simon Roberts said he was “absolutely committed” to supporting colleagues in any way possible “during this uncertain time”.

“Of course, we understand this is very unsettling for our colleagues, but we must keep adapting our business to make sure we are offering customers the best possible food and drink at affordable prices,” he added.

Sainsbury’s is also set to close 34 ”less popular” hot food and pizza counters in the coming months, as well as “simplify the way it runs its bakeries in 54 stores”. Those colleagues will be redeployed to other areas of their store “where possible”, the grocer said.

Trade union Unite, which represents around 9,000 Sainsbury’s staff, has called for the business to “rule out compulsory redundancies” following the announcement.

Unite national officer for food, drink and agriculture, Bev Clarkson, said Sainsbury’s’ colleagues showed “great loyalty” to the company during the pandemic and that it must repay them by keeping job losses “to an absolute minimum” and ruling out compulsory redundancies.

“Staff that transfer to new café operators must have their wages and terms and conditions protected. Those that want to stay with Sainsbury’s need to be provided with new roles in the company,” Clarkson said.

“They served their communities during lockdown and ensured Sainsbury’s flourished when other businesses flatlined.”

Sainsbury’s’ move is part of a wider restructure of its eat-in, takeaway and home delivery operations in 250 of its supermarkets over the next three years.

In an initial stage, it is planning to open 30 more of its Restaurant Hubs format – in partnership with Boparan Restaurant Group – in the next year, following a successful trial at its Selly Oak store. The goal is to accelerate the rollout if the format continues to grow in popularity.

The Grocer reported last year on the opening of the Restaurant Hub format at Sainsbury’s Selly Oak superstore – featuring Boparan-affiliated brands such as Carluccio’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Slim Chickens, Harry Ramsden’s and Ed’s Easy Diner.

“The Restaurant Hub allows customers to enjoy multiple brands by placing one order with one payment which can all be enjoyed on site, or all delivered in one bag with just one delivery charge,” said Boparan Restaurant Group CEO Satnam Leihal.

“This gives customers choice that never existed before and we’re delighted to be the first in the market to land this experience with such incredible brands.”

Additionally, Sainsbury’s is opening 30 Starbucks shops in its stores – bringing the total to 60.

“We know that customers like the convenience of being able to have a drink, a snack or a meal while they’re doing their shopping – and that they love the range of food and brands on offer at The Restaurant Hub and from Starbucks,” Roberts said.

“Through our trials with Boparan Restaurant Group and Starbucks we have learnt that we can offer customers a much better eat-in and takeaway experience working with partners.

“We are totally focused on improving what we can deliver for our customers and at the same time, working hard to make our business simpler. We are really excited about this new customer offer.”

The company said 67 of its own cafés would remain open while it reviewed the rollout plans.