400 jobs at risk as Central England shuts distribution centres

The retail society, which is transferring distribution operations to to the Co-op Group, hopes to find alternative roles for staff

Hundreds of jobs are at risk at Central Co-op after the retail society announced plans to transfer distribution operations to the Co-operative Group.

Central will shut three distributions centres under the move, along with a garage site, as it moves to the Group’s LIDIA network, which serves over 4,000 stores out of 13 distribution centres and is owned by Manchester-based Co-op Group.

Premises on the Braunstone Frith Industrial Estate, Scudamore Road in Leicester and a garage in Whetstone will be affected.

A spokesperson for the Central said the move was part of its “purpose of creating a sustainable society for all.”

“Over the past year we have been working on our strategy, across all areas of our business, to build a clear growth plan to deliver on this mission,” they added.

“To continue growing the society and where we support communities, we have given a lot of careful thought to the future needs of our distribution operations – including the age of our current network and its capability to fulfil the future needs in our strategy to improve the offer to members and customers.

“We looked at a number of options, including investing in a new purpose-built modern operation. Approval has been reached for Central Co-op to join the LIDIA network from 2024.

“This national collective distribution and logistics operation, already serves over 4,000 stores with 13 distribution centres. LIDIA is owned and operated by the Co-op Group on behalf of their own stores and other independent Co-operatives’ stores in the UK.

“This is a difficult decision for some of our colleagues and we are sorry it will result in the proposed closure of our three distribution operations in Leicester and our Whetstone garage, with the transition period expected to take a year.

“We will now enter a consultation period with USDAW (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers).”

John Gorle, national officer at Usdaw, said: “This is devastating news for staff affected by the company’s proposal, our members are deeply concerned about their future employment prospects. We will now enter into a period of meaningful consultation where Usdaw reps and officials will interrogate the company’s business case for the transfer of distribution operations.

“We welcome that Central Co-op has given an early commitment to offering alternative roles to all staff affected, both within Central Co-op and the Co-op Group. Our priorities are to avoid redundancies and secure the best support package possible. In the meantime we are providing our members with the advice, support and representation they need during this period of uncertainty.”