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The future of a huge Argos distribution centre next to the M6 is being reviewed as owners Sainsbury's looks to cut costs.Copyright: Google
The supermarket giant bought Argos and Habitat in 2016 and, since a merger with Asda was blocked last year, said in January it needed to spend several months "streamlining its structure".
Now, Sainsbury's said it is reviewing work at the Acton Gate hub near Stafford, subject to consultation, and looking at whether current staff can continue their roles from home or another site in the future.
Here's a quick look at the stories making the newspaper headlines across Essex:
- The Mayor of Saffron Walden and his wife are being treated for pneumonia complications after they were diagnosed with coronavirus, according to the Reporter
- The Southend Echo is reporting that workers at the Argos warehouse in Basildon say it is "busier than Christmas", triggering worries they are at risk with no personal protection equipment
- Tributes have been paid to a St Osyth dad at Ipswich Hospital a day after he was diagnosed with coronavirus, reports the Colchester Gazette
- Copyright: Getty Images
Sainsbury's is to cut "hundreds of management roles" in the next few months by "streamlining its structure".
The supermarket chain - which also owns Argos - said it has already cut its leadership team by 20% since last March.
"We have to adapt to continue to meet the needs of our customers now and in the future and, while change can be hard, it’s also necessary," said chief executive Mike Coupe.
The company has been busy cutting costs since its attempt to merge with Asda was blocked in April by the Competition and Markets Authority and is now busy integrating further with Argos, that it bought in 2016.
- Copyright: Getty Images
Sainsbury's chief executive, Mike Coupe, has blamed the wider market for the fall in general merchandise over third quarter, which included Christmas trading.
Overall Mr Coupe said he was "very pleased" with Sainsbury's Christmas performance.
Commenting on general merchandise, which includes the Argos brand, Mr Coupe said: "Our store-in-store performance was good, our digital performance was excellent...but the challenge was in a couple of categories, particularly gaming and toys.
"These are the categories that we generally over-trade in and if you take the toy market as an example, it is actually down 20% over the last 2 years, very significant declines.
He added that this year "there wasn't a big gaming release".
- Copyright: Getty Images
Sainsbury's said like-for-like sales excluding fuel fell by 0.7% in the third quarter.
The supermarket group said like-for-like trade in groceries rose by 0.4% in the 15 weeks to 4 January, while clothing sales rose by 4.4%.
However it recorded a sharp fall in general merchandise.
Sainsbury's, which owns Argos, said like-for-like sales for general merchandise dropped by 3.9%
Chief executive Mike Coupe said: "Argos outperformed the market in consumer electronics, but the toy and gaming markets declined year on year."
- Copyright: Argos 1975
What is it about the Argos catalogue? That encyclopedia of domestic life, aspiration within reach for everyone from Jerry and Margot to Tom and Barbara.
And as comedian Bill Bailey once pointed out: laminated "to catch the tears of joy at so many beautiful things".
Argos has made all its back catalogues available to browse online, letting you reminisce over everything from the 1974 hostess trolley (£43) to the 1987 personal stereo (£19.95).Copyright: Argos
There is a serious risk you'll get sucked into a nostalgia time-warp and lose the rest of your Friday afternoon. You have been warned.
As Business Live reported earlier, the boss of Argos - the retailer owned by Sainsbury's - is moving to become chief financial officer at WPP.
Shore Capital analyst Clive Black reckons John Rogers' departure could mean that the supermarket group's chief executive Mike Coupe is staying where he is even after the Competition and Markets Authority blocked Sainsbury's £7.3bn bid for Asda.
"To our minds, Rogers was the prime internal candidate to replace Mike Coupe... should the incumbent boss wish to hang up his boots. With this announcement, it's maybe the clearest smoke signal yet that Coupe is going nowhere," said Mr Black.
The boss of Argos, the retailer owned by supermarket group Sainsbury's, has quit to join advertising giant WPP as its chief financial officer.
John Rogers is leaving on 31 October after three years as Argos chief executive and more than 14 years at Sainsbury's.
Last week, Sainsbury's announced that it will close up to 70 Argos shops as part of a wider shake-up.
It plans to move some Argos stores into its supermarkets.
Mr Rogers' responsibilities at Argos will split between retail and operations director Simon Roberts and commercial director Paul Mills-Hicks.
He will join WPP in early 2020.
- Copyright: PA Media
Earlier today Sainsbury's revealed a new five-year plan to turn around the business and cut costs.
It said 70 Argos shops will close and around 80 will open within its supermarkets. Up to 15 large supermarkets and as many as 40 convenience stores will also close, with 10 big stores and some 110 convenience stores opening.
Speaking to analysts following a store tour in Southampton earlier chief executive Mike Coupe was asked repeatedly how many staff would be affected by the changes, which stores are set to close, where the new sites could be located, or when workers would be informed if their store is safe.
He declined to comment, only saying "we think it's a good news story for our colleagues".
Finance chief Kevin O'Byrne said: "These are stores we don't see a long-term future for."
The company explained it reviews all properties every five years to identify which stores are underperforming, and acts accordingly.
However, sources said the decision on which stores has not been made and will close "over a period of time" during the next five years.