Peterborough jobs at risk as Asda announce changes to in-store bakeries

Jobs at Asda in Peterborough are set to be at risk as the supermarket chain announce they are planning to make an important change to their in-store bakeries.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 1:22 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 2:25 pm
Asda, Rivergate.

The supermarket giants, which have a superstore in the Rivergate Shopping Centre, are to stop making bread, croissants and pastry treats on-site in their 341 stores in favour of a move to a central bakery, which will bake and deliver goods to be warmed in stores.

This puts the jobs of as many as 1,200 skilled bakers as risk across the UK. Asda has confirmed that they are consulting with staff at the moment, but that it was treating redundancy as “the last option.”

The company said in a statement on Wednesday (April 14) that: “If the proposals are enacted, the priority will be to move as many colleagues as possible into alternative roles within Asda, with redundancy the last option.”

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The changes are said to have been brought on by a noticeable shift in buying habits that now sees customers looking for speciality breads, wraps, bagels and pancakes ahead of traditional loaves.

Asda chief merchandising officer Derek Lawlor said: “The current in-store bakery model has restricted our ability to respond to changing customer demands and offer them the speciality products and freshly baked goods they want to buy throughout the day.

“The changes we are proposing will deliver a much better and more consistent bakery offering for customers across all our stores. We know these proposed changes will be unsettling for colleagues and our priority is to support them during this process.”

The move was criticised by the GMB union who said it was bad for consumers and employees alike.

Roger Jenkins, GMB national officer said: “Asda’s plans to scrap baking their products from scratch on site and replace them with part-baked products from mass producers is not good for the consumer.

“Over 1,000 skilled bakers are now at risk of losing their jobs. GMB calls on Asda to retain these valuable skilled employees and continue to offer the customer truly fresh produce baked by professional bakers.”

Asda’s move follows a similar decision by Tesco, taken just over a year ago, which put up to 1,800 jobs at risk.

The chain said at the time it would do less baking from scratch in stores, citing a similar shift away from traditional loaves and bread.

Asda was sold by US giant Walmart for £6.8 billion in December last year to Mohsin and Zuber Issa, brothers who made their billions from petrol stations.

However the decision to slash the bakeries was taken independently of the Issa brothers. The Competition and Markets Authority has taken out an order which prevents them exercising influence over Asda until it can assess the deal.