Waitrose store front

Source: Waitrose

The employees at Foundever handle customer service requests for Waitrose

Hundreds of Waitrose customer service workers at a key outsourcer are no longer at risk of redundancy, The Grocer has learned.

As many as 200 roles were at risk at Foundever, after JLP had slimmed down the extent of its contract as part of its cost-cutting turnaround plan.

Formerly called Sitel, Midlands-based Foundever handles inbound calls, email and digital customer service channels for Waitrose. The company has worked with JLP for the past 17 years and signed a five-year contract extension in February, shortly before news of the redundancy consultation was reported by The Telegraph.

The Grocer understands that the majority of Foundever staff working on the Waitrose team were placed on 45 days redundancy notice following the extension.

However, last week Foundever emailed affected teams notifying them that they were “no longer at risk of redundancy” following a period of “natural attrition”.

While a small number of team managers had been made redundant, 100 Foundever employees working on the Waitrose team had been found roles elsewhere within the company, The Grocer understands.

No further changes to team size were expected in the immediate future, the correspondence said. 

“Our objective is always to deliver for our clients, even as their needs change, while setting up our colleagues for success,” a Foundever spokeswoman told The Grocer.

“In this case, it was always our intention to use the consultation process to find new internal opportunities for colleagues impacted by the changed structure of our John Lewis team.

“We are very pleased that it was possible for so many to stay within the company and now use their existing expertise to deliver for other clients.”

JLP declined to comment.

Senior partners have promised a renewed focus on the “retail basics”, investment in automation, stores and service following JLP’s return to profit in March. 

The partnership is looking to shave a further £900m from its operations by 2028, as part of the newly rejigged strategy unveiled by outgoing chairman Sharon White and CEO Nish Kankiwala.

It includes plans to reduce headcount by as many as 11,000 partners over the next five years. JLP insists that the majority of the reduction will come through natural attrition.

The Grocer understands that the redundancy consultation at Foundever was separate from the wider headcount reduction across the partnership.

Read more: Jason Tarry to succeed Sharon White as JLP chairman