Waitrose large electric van

Source: The John Lewis Partnership

The Enfield site handles online orders for Waitrose stores in and around London

The John Lewis Partnership plans to shutter its Enfield fulfilment centre, in a proposed restructure of its Waitrose logistics network that could see the loss of more than 500 roles, The Grocer can reveal. 

Under the proposals, JLP plans to close the site – which processes online deliveries for Waitrose in north London – on Saturday 20 July, with the capacity being moved to its two centres in Coulsdon and Greenford, according to documents seen by The Grocer.

As a result, all of the 545 positions at the site have been placed under consultation, with the majority of the roles considered as having “no suitable alternative employment”. Affected partners were informed of the changes on Thursday morning that their roles are under consultation. 

In a letter sent to partners, JLP explained that as the site’s lease was set to expire in 2025 it had begun a review of its customer fulfilment centre model.

“While exploring contract negotiations with the landlord is possible, we know our rent costs at Enfield will increase,” the letter said.

The partnership anticipates the volume of orders in London to increase to 50,000 per week by 2030, from 38,000 currently, which it believed could be fulfilled by the two fulfilment centres. The changes would save JLP an estimated £8.7m, the letter said. 

A source at the site told The Grocer that partners were informed on Tuesday that a briefing was scheduled, but that teams were surprised by the announcements. 

“It was all presented in a matter-of-fact way, which was quite surprising coming from a supposedly partner-led organisation,” the source said.

“I really don’t think those, even at the highest level within the site, knew what was going to happen as there was many a tear shed, particularly from the senior team members.”

The changes are among the first to be announced as part of a wider plan to cut what has been reported  as up to 11,000 roles from JLP’s operations over the next five years, as part of the turnaround strategy. JLP has confirmed job cuts are planned, but has disputed the specific figure. 

“With rental costs at Enfield due to increase and capacity elsewhere in our network, we are considering the closure of the site,” said a JLP spokesman.

“While not an option we’re exploring lightly, the proposal would maintain our high levels of customer service for Waitrose.com and support future growth. It’s in no way a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our team. No decision will be made until we have fully consulted with all Partners at our Enfield site, who are being supported throughout the process.”