Co-op is expecting to reduce its customer and marketing roles by around 20%, as the group plans hundreds of redundancies to manage increased costs and a rocky operating environment.
Around 400 redundancies are anticipated at the company’s head office in Manchester, after closed vacancies, redeployment, and the creation of new roles are taken into account.
The group employs more than 63,000 people across its retail, funeral care, insurance and legal services, as well as 4,000 support centre colleagues. None of the job cuts will be in customer-facing roles in its stores or funeral homes, with Co-op to continue recruiting for new roles in these areas.
In April, when the group reported its 2021 results, it warned of continuing problems with food supplies and inflation after its annual profits more than halved amid supply chain disruption and higher staff wages.
“It is clear we are facing into a highly uncertain economic climate, where rising prices in particular are placing a real challenge on both consumer spending, but also on corporate costs and expenditure,” said then-CEO Steve Murrells
“We cannot shy away from this reality and it is important that, during 2022, we take the action needed to strengthen our underlying financial position.”Co-op’s marketing boss on why membership is more powerful than loyalty
A Co-op spokesperson says the job cuts are designed to “simplify” the business and are the “right thing to do” for the long-term health of the group.
“At our last set of annual results, we shared that as part of our strategy, making our Co-op more efficient and cost-effective was a priority. The tough trading environment, including rising inflation, means we have taken the difficult decision to bring forward some of the changes we had planned for 2023,” the spokesperson says.
“These changes, designed to simplify our approach to business, will sadly mean a number of colleagues in central functions will leave the business.”
The company says it will try to reduce roles by closing open vacancies and through voluntary redundancy where possible.
Co-op also owns retail chain Nisa, where it is consulting on cutting an additional 50 jobs.
Last year saw Co-op rejig the structure of its marketing leadership after Matt Atkinson stepped down as chief customer and membership officer. His departure saw customer and community director Ali Jones and then-data and loyalty director Charlotte Lock report directly into the CEO.
Lock has since left the business, joining the John Lewis Partnership in April as customer director. Jones is now the top marketer at the group.