Littlewoods owner Shop Direct is closing three of its warehouses in Greater Manchester, putting close to 2,000 jobs at risk.
The online retailer, which also owns Very.co.uk, said it will close sites in Shaw, Little Hulton and Raven from mid-2020 onwards and open up an automated warehouse in the East Midlands where around 500 new jobs will be created.
Shop Direct predicts it will also employ an additional 200 and 300 agency workers at the site during peak times.
The closures put 1,177 Shop Direct employees and 815 agency workers in doubt, with the company confirming that redundancies are likely. Industry experts said it was unlikely that many existing staff would be given new jobs.
Shop Direct will begin work on the new site in May, with the opening set to take place in 2021. The company, which is owned by the billionaire Barclay brothers, said automation at the new warehouse would allow it to respond more quickly to changing consumer demand.
David and Frederick Barclay also own the Telegraph newspaper titles.
Derek Harding, interim group chief executive of Shop Direct, acknowledged that the decision was a tough one for the business and for its workers but said the proposals were necessary.
He said: “For Shop Direct to continue to meet customer demand, the business now needs a new, purpose-built and automated facility in a central, well-connected location, that can accommodate all one-man fulfilment and returns operations on one site, and that provides room for continued expansion,” the company added.
Shop Direct employees who are affected by the news are now consulting with the company. The Usdaw union is supporting staff.
Martin Lane, managing editor of money.co.uk said the news made for “another dark day” in the UK retail industry, following a pattern of chains cutting jobs or entering administration.
“The location of Shop Direct's warehouses appears to be the cause of these redundancies being made and with a new site not expected until 2021 there is little hope for staff to be transferred.”
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