Lincoln

Lincolnshire Co-op plans to close two distribution centres to save £1m a year

Two Lincolnshire Co-op food distribution centres in Lincoln are likely to be closed, making more than 100 members of staff redundant, the society has confirmed.

Lincolnshire Co-op announced on Monday, July 10 that a consultation has begun with staff on the possible closures of the centres on Whisby Road and Pioneer Way from September.

The move has been proposed in order to make savings of around £1 million a year which would be invested in new facilities.

In total, 111 distribution and office staff are at risk of redundancy.

Lincolnshire Co-op has said a support centre has been set up at the sites to help colleagues during the consultation.

The two Lincoln distribution centres supply ambient goods such as tins, packets and bottles to Lincolnshire Co-op’s 83 food stores.

The Pioneer Way food distribution centre in Lincoln.

Fresh and frozen deliveries come from a Nottinghamshire-based depot, part of a national distribution network which serves other co-operative societies.

It is proposed that this network will take over the distribution of ambient goods to Lincolnshire Co-op food stores from Monday, September 11.

The co-operative says that combining the two delivery streams will be more efficient.

The society added it would still work independently with local suppliers and wholesalers to supply locally-sourced goods to its outlets.

The support centre will run sessions from JobCentre Plus and the National Careers Services, host presentations from other employers in the area and offer free training sessions and CV writing workshops. Local job vacancies will also be circulated weekly.

Lincolnshire Co-op hopes to be able to redeploy some of the colleagues at risk.

Chief Retail Officer Mark Finn said: “The difficult decision to close our food distribution centres is not one we have embarked on lightly. However, we’re confident that this is the right decision for the society because it will lead to significant savings, which we can invest elsewhere.

“It does not in any way reflect on our hard-working colleagues, who we thank for their efforts over the years.

“Lincolnshire Co-op is more than 150 years old. During that time, we have changed and reshaped our business to ensure we continue to be successful, recording strong performances which enable us to invest in our services and the community.

“Recently, we’ve seen a shift in what our customers want. They come to us for fresh and frozen food, such as stocking up on fruit and vegetables or picking up a meal for that night.

“These means we’ve been changing the mix of products found in our food stores, with more emphasis on fresh and frozen goods rather than tins, packets and bottles.

“As our demand for the fresh and frozen goods increases, it’s more efficient for us to combine the two separate delivery streams.

“We will have access to a much larger range and it means customers will see a wider variety of products. We also hope to reduce the number of lorries visiting our outlets.”

In June, Lincolnshire Co-op closed its butchery production facility, which was next to the distribution centre on the Pioneer Way site. There were 26 redundancies.

The cost of processing the society’s own meat range became unviable and now Lincolnshire Co-op sources local meat from a variety of county suppliers.

Both the Pioneer Way and Whisby Road sites are owned by Lincolnshire Co-op and alternative uses and future developments will be explored over coming weeks.