Online retailer Shop Direct is to close three sites in Greater Manchester, putting almost 2,000 jobs at risk.
The Liverpool-based group, which owns Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com, will close distribution centres in Shaw, Little Hulton and Chadderton. A new warehouse is to be built in the East Midlands, employing 500 people, but Shop Direct said redundancies were still likely.
Interim chief executive Derek Harding said it was a “tough day for the business,” adding “these proposals are necessary for our future and to enable us to continue to grow and meet rising customer expectations.”
Shop Direct, which is one of the UK’s biggest online retailers, is owned by the billionaire Barclay brothers, who also own the Daily Telegraph. The Greater Manchester distribution centres will be closed from mid-2020 onwards, while operations will begin in the East Midlands in 2021.
The move puts the jobs of 1,177 employees and 815 agency workers in doubt. Affected employees are consulting with the firm about the changes, with the USDAW union supporting staff.
USDAW divisional officer Mike Aylward said: “Our members are understandably shocked and devastated by today’s announcement of the proposed closure and relocation of the Shop Direct sites.
“The company has been providing employment for families in the North West for decades and these sites have different generations of the same families working there.
“The impact of closures will be huge on hundreds of families, local businesses and the local communities. We are seeking an urgent meeting with the company to look at the business case for the proposed closures and we will look to mobilise the support of local MPs and councillors.
“The Union has officials onsite to provide help, advice and support at this very difficult time. Today’s announcement is also a very sad day for the North West as Shop Direct was created from the merger of the iconic mail order and retail giants, Littlewoods and Great Universal Stores and these are the company’s last remaining fulfilment sites in the region.”
According to Shop Direct, its sales climbed 5.6% last year to £1.93bn.