3,500 jobs to go as Sainsbury's shuts meat, fish and deli counters and 120 Argos stores

Despite soaring grocery sales amidst the first lockdown, Sainsbury's said it had been hit hard by the cost of dealing with Covid. Credit: PA

Sainsbury’s has confirmed it will cut around 3,500 jobs across its Argos stores and supermarkets.

The retail giant said jobs will be cut through the closure of all of its meat, fish and deli counters.

It also said roles will go as part of plans to imminently close 120 Argos stores, which is part of a strategy to shut 420 standalone Argos branches over the next three-and-a-half years.

Sainsbury's said the closure of the specialist counters is part of efforts to “better reflect customer demand” and will save the business around £60 million.

Sainsbury’s posted a pre-tax loss of £137 million for the year to September 19.

In April, Sainsbury’s had warned over a coronavirus hit to profits of more than £500 million despite surging grocery sales.

The supermarket giant said at the time that the impact of Covid-19 was expected to leave underlying profits broadly flat for the year to March 2021 as it faced soaring costs for measures to protect staff and customers, as well as falls in non-food and fuel sales.

The group also added that the profits impact could be greater if lockdown was extended further and if there was a longer-term hit to the wider economy than expected.

Simon Roberts, chief executive of Sainsbury’s, said: “We are talking to colleagues today about where the changes we are announcing in Argos standalone stores and food counters impact their roles.

“We will work really hard to find alternative roles for as many of these colleagues as possible and expect to be able to offer alternative roles for the majority of impacted colleagues.

“Right here and now, I and all the team are focused on supporting and delivering for our customers in the days and weeks ahead.”

The announcement comes just a day after John Lewis announced it was cutting 1,500 jobs at its head office and Lloyds Banking Group announced 1,070 roles are to be axed.