• Job losses expected to be in the “low hundreds”
  • Grocer says it has to “further change the way we do business”
  • News comes days after its big four rivals beat sales expectations over Christmas

Asda is poised to axe hundreds of head office jobs as the supermarket giant faces “permanent structural change” within the grocery industry.

The grocer, which cut 1,360 jobs under a radical shake-up of its management structure in July 2014, admitted it had to “further change the way we do business” in the wake of a price war sparked by discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Asda has been the worst-performing member of the big four for a number of months, according to data from Kantar. In the 12 weeks to January 3, sales declined by 3.5% as its market share dipped to 16.2%.

Like-for-like sales slumped 4.5% during the third quarter, but boss Andy Clarke insisted the Walmart-owned business had the “financial strength and clear plan” to recover, although he admitted that it would be a “slow and costly process”. 

The latest job cuts are set to be in the “low hundreds”, Retail Week understands. An Asda spokeswoman refused to be drawn on exactly how many roles would be lost, or on which departments the axe would fall. It currently employs around 3,000 staff at its HQ in Leeds.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have also axed jobs in the wake of fierce competition from the discounters.

The Asda spokeswoman said: “It’s well documented that in recent years customers have radically changed the way they shop.

“We were the first of the big four to recognise this and launch a new strategy in 2013, yet the external pressures have accelerated at an increasingly rapid rate over the past 18 months.

“As a result, the industry faces major challenges and the certainty of permanent structural change. In the context of this, we also have to further change the way we do business.

“Today, we have started to talk to our colleagues in head office functions about what this means for them.

“We have made some difficult but necessary decisions but we must discuss these with our colleagues before we talk publicly.”

The move comes days after Asda’s big four rivals posted better than expected Christmas trading updates.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons posted consensus-busting like-for-like sales last week, piling more pressure on Asda. The grocer will report its latest quarterly trading update next month.

Walmart revealed in October that it was axing 450 jobs at its head office in Bentonville, Arkansas, and last week it unveiled plans to shutter 269 stores across the globe.