Cambridge

Stores in East Anglia ‘at risk’ as 75 Asda supermarkets feared under threat in Sainsbury’s merger

East Anglia has two Asda stores which could be at risk of closure thanks to the company's merger with Sainsbury's, it has been revealed.

This is due to the stores' close proximity to Sainsbury's stores.

The merger between the two companies puts jobs at risk, according to industry insiders.

The Mirror reports nearly 100 stores and distribution centres could close as a result of the £15billion merger.

Union bosses fear this threatens thousands of jobs.

'Merger could take years to finalise'

The mega merger, creating a retail giant with £50billion sales, more than 2,000 stores and a greater market share than industry leader Tesco, could take up to two years to finalise, says the GMB.

The union, which represents Asda staff, believe competition watchdogs will force Asda and Sainsburys to offload stores in areas where the group could gain a monopoly.

It believes 75 Asda supermarkets and 11 distribution centres are under threat because of their close proximity to similar Sainsburys shops and warehouses.

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GMB national officer Gary Carter said: “People are very fearful about their jobs and longterm prospects.

“Asda have said to us they are going to continue as a separate operation and there are no plans for store closures and changes.

“However, were concerned that where there have been mergers and takeovers within the retail sector in the past it has resulted in stores being sold and rationalisation within the distribution and head office functions.”

'We want to make sure jobs are protected'

Mr Carter spoke after meeting bosses at US-owned Asda to seek assurances over possible job losses and store closures.

He added: “It seems Sainsburys are very much in the driving seat and our Asda members are seeing it as a takeover.

“I am sure Sainsburys and Asda will want to retain their market share but equally we want to make sure jobs and livelihoods are protected.

“People want long term job security but its likely to be up in the air for quite a long time.”

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David Haywood, founder of Maximise UK, believes at least six per cent or 73 of the combined group's supermarkets are at risk.

He told the BBC: "The real focus will be on how Sainsbury's and Asda's main supermarkets operate at a local level and how they overlap.

It is not yet known if Asda at The Beehive Centre, Cambridge, could be one of the stores at risk

"The CMA will be concerned about whether the deal reduces the number of competing brands within a 10 or 15 minute drive time."

Asda insists there is no threat to jobs.

A spokesman said: “Asda and Sainsburys will continue to operate as two separate retailers, and this proposed merger offers a great deal for customers.

"There are no planned store and depot closures as a result of the proposed combination”.

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The areas with overlapping supermarkets

South East 17

North West 13

South West 11

Yorkshire 9

West Midlands 8

North 5

East Midlands 3

Scotland 3

East Anglia 2

Wales 2

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The £12billion merger, which was confirmed on Monday April 30, is set to create Britains largest supermarket chain, employing 330,000 people and representing a 31 per cent market share.

The Competition and Markets Authority says it is likely to review the merger.

David Tyler, Sainsbury's chairman, said: "As one of the largest employers in the country, the combined business will become an even greater contributor to the British economy.

"The proposal will bring together two of the most experienced and talented management teams in retail at a time when the industry is undergoing rapid change.

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