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Nearly 100 stores and distribution centres could close as a result of the £15billion merger between Asda and Sainsbury’s, threatening thousands of jobs, union chiefs fear.
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 Sainsbury’s 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 Sainsbury’s shops and warehouses.
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, we’re 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.”
Mr Carter spoke after meeting bosses at US-owned Asda to seek assurances over possible job losses and store closures.
He added: “It seems Sainsbury’s are very much in the driving seat and our Asda members are seeing it as a takeover.
“I am sure Sainsbury’s 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 it’s likely to be up in the air for quite a long time.”
David Haywood, founder of Maximise UK, believes at least 6% 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.
“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 Sainsbury’s 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”. The areas with overlapping supermarkets
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