Marks & Spencer is shutting two regional distribution centres, putting about 600 jobs at risk.
M&S said the changes were part of its transition to a nationally connected supply chain network that will help to fix the basics of its supply chain.
The depots that will close are at Long Eaton, between Derby and Nottingham, where 330 people are being consulted and Thorncliffe, north of Sheffield, where at least 250 workers face an uncertain future. Long Eaton is run by DHL, Thorncliffe by XPO.
Despite the closures, M&S said it was investing in six national distribution centres in Welham Green, Bradford, Stoke, Swindon, Thurrock and Castle Donington, to improve supply to its retail outlets.
An M&S spokesperson said: “We’re in the early stages of changing our supply chain to address flow of product and availability for our customers. As part of this, we’ll no longer be serving our stores from our Thorncliffe and Long Eaton distribution centres.
“Moving the operations is not a decision we’ve taken lightly, but it’s an important change to help us best serve our customers as we move to a nationally connected network. Our logistics partners will be working closely with the colleagues at the sites on what is best for them.”
XPO told Sheffield online news provider The Star: “We have entered into a consultation period with colleagues, the trade union and elected employee representatives to finalise the plans.”
The Star also reported that Thorncliffe staff had considered their jobs to be relatively safe because the distribution centre had recently been recruiting more workers.
Area organiser for shopworkers’ union Usdaw, Ed Leach, said the decision was devastating for employees. He added: “Usdaw will now enter into meaningful consultations … where we will interrogate the business case and secure the best possible outcome for all affected.”
Last year, M&S told investors its logistics network was holding it back because it was “complex and high cost” and too slow at replenishing stores.
The retailer, which has lost its place in the FTSE 100, is also said to be considering more store closures; with The Sunday Times reporting that chairman Archie Norman and chief executive Steve Rowe warned landlords that the firm may close any under-performing sites across the UK, including those that had been considered prime.
The newspaper claimed that landlords now expect M&S to close down more than the 110 stores it has already earmarked as part of its turnaround scheme.