Tesco’s latest PR nightmare sent its shares plunging by more than 3 percent on Monday.
A leaked document has revealed that some 39,000 store associate jobs could be on the chopping block over the next three years at Britain’s biggest supermarket chain and on Friday the report’s legitimacy was confirmed by The Guardian.
However, Tesco noted that it was one of several scenarios being considered as a means to cut costs and that it had no concrete plans to lay off workers.
“This is not a new program of job losses and we are not announcing one. We do not comment on rumors other than to say that we are transforming Tesco into an organization that meets the needs of customers in a rapidly changing retail sector, and as such continue to plan accordingly,” a spokesman said in a statement.
The Guardian reported that as 45,000 people leave Tesco every year through “natural wastage,” the cuts could be achieved without redundancies if the retailer simply chooses to not replace departing employees.
The retailer’s revenue has been hurt in recent years by the rapid rise of German discounters Aldi and Lidl, resulting in a 55 percent fall in operating profits from 779 million pounds (about $1.2 billion) to 354 million pounds ($541.1 million) in the first half of fiscal 2015. Last year, it reported a record 6.4 billion pound (nearly $9 billion) pre-tax loss and axed thousands of jobs.
Dave Lewis has been trying to turn around Tesco’s fortunes since he took up the chief executive role in September 2014 and the supermarket chain reported a better-than-expected 1.3% increase in same-store sales in the 12 weeks ended Jan. 3.
Earlier this month, Tesco announced plans to expand its use of RFID smart labels on its F&F clothing range by rolling out the technology to 200 more stores in an effort to reduce stockouts and increase efficiency.