Business

Sainsbury's to close Craigavon store as union warns of up to 109 job losses

Sainsbury's has 13 supermarkets and 20 Argos outlets in Northern Ireland. Picture by Danny Lawson/PA Wire.

A Sainsbury’s store and filling station at Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon is to close early next year.

The company said it was working to find alternative roles for staff within Sainsbury’s as a union warned that it could result in up to 109 job losses. 

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said, “We have updated colleagues on the difficult decision to close our Craigavon store and petrol filling station in early next year. We understand this will be an unsettling time for those affected and we are doing everything we can to find alternative roles within Sainsbury’s.

“Customers can continue to shop with us online and at our stores in the surrounding area, including at our Dungannon, Armagh and Lisburn or supermarkets.”

Fears that Craigavon site closure may be a weathervane pointing to a wider retail threat posed as a result of Northern Ireland Protocol trade restrictions

Unite regional officer, Taryn Trainor, said the union fears that the closure may point to a wider retail threat posed as a result of Northern Ireland Protocol trade restrictions.

“This morning’s announcement will be hugely concerning news for the 109 workers at the Craigavon supermarket who now face the prospect of losing their livelihoods in the mouth of Christmas. Unite has been on the ground engaging with our members to charter a course to secure protections and guarantees from this employer.

“There is absolutely no excuse for this decision. Last year and despite the pandemic lockdown, the company still made a clear profit before tax of £356 million pounds. Sales have surged in the last quarter suggesting that the company will make even higher profits in the year to come. Sadly however, this company expects the workers employed at its Craigavon site to pay the price for increasing those profits even further – as their store is not judged profitable enough.

“We are seeking guarantees that the mostly low-paid workers facing the threat of joblessness will be found alternative employment elsewhere with costs of redeployment being met by Sainsbury’s. It is unconscionable that a worker earning a bare living wage of £9.50 an hour should not be expected to cover such costs.”

Ms Trainor called on Sainsbury’s to confirm its commitment to the post-Brexit Northern Ireland retail market.

“There are fears that this closure could be a weathervane for more to come. The rationale offered by Sainsbury’s for this closure include changing demographics which makes little sense except that as a cover for the impact of post-Brexit trading arrangements under the Northern Ireland Protocol. Sainsbury’s has been extremely vocal in recent months highlighting the impact of Brexit on reduced choice of products on shelves here in Northern Ireland. They have also had to use competitors to supply stores in Northern Ireland. These factors would obviously impact profits." 

 

“We need have a commitment from Sainsbury’s that they are committed to Northern Ireland for the long-term. Unite will be engaging with our members in this store to determine our next steps in response to this devastating announcement”, Ms Trainor finished.

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