The digital retailer Shop Direct announced on Wednesday the creation of a new automated 500,000 square foot distribution and returns centre in the UK.
The opening of the new automated centre means that the Shaw, Little Hulton and Raven sites are no longer needed and will be closed, putting the jobs of 1,177 permanent workers and 815 agency workers at risk of being lost.
According to management, for the business to grow, the company needs a new, purpose-built and automated facility that is well-connected and can run operations from a single site.
Offsetting part of those job losses, 500 roles will be created at the new centre, with between 200 to 300 new agency colleagues expected to be required during peak periods.
The Usdaw union, which is working closely with the affected employees, has assured they will receive the support they need during the process.
Derek Harding, interim group CEO of Shop Direct, said: “This is a tough day for the business and we know how difficult this news will be to hear for our teams in Shaw, Little Hulton and Raven. However, these proposals are necessary for our future and to enable us to continue to grow and meet rising customer expectations.
“We take very seriously our responsibilities to our colleagues. We are working alongside Usdaw, our recognised trade union, and will listen carefully to what they have to say. We'll also work closely with local authorities and community leaders to make sure this process is carried out as fairly and sensitively as possible for our colleagues.
“We're announcing this now to give our colleagues the best possible opportunity to prepare for the change. Over the next two to three years, we'll be partnering with local and national organisations to provide our colleagues with tailored advice and training, including career skills, access to financial planning and vocational courses to support re-training. It's also our plan to offer apprenticeships in in-demand skills across our existing operational sites.
“Our priority is to provide a fair outcome for our team and we'll do everything we can to support colleagues through this transition.”
The development is set to start in May and it's expected to be fully operational by 2021.