Supermarket giant Sainsbury, is set to close about 200 of its in-store cafes and less popular hot food counters in 34 stores.
The closures will put around 2,000 jobs at risk even though the chain has promised to support affected staff who will be given priority for vacant jobs within the business.
It comes as part of plans to update the supermarket’s eat-in, takeaway and home delivery food and drink offer for customers.
Sainsbury’s is pioneering a new format called The Restaurant Hub at its Selly Oak store in Birmingham. It plans to open 30 more of the food halls in 2022, as well as 30 Starbucks coffee shops in its supermarkets over the next 12 months.
The chain is currently working in partnership with the Boparan Restaurant Group on the project. As part of the trial, customers were able to choose options from the likes of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Ed’s Diner and Slim Chickens.
Sainsbury’s said it could increase the number of food halls in future years, if they continued to perform well with customers.
The remaining 67 cafes will remain open while Sainsbury’s reviews roll-out plans. The retailer has already closed its fresh fish, cheese and meat counters in stores, which saw about 3,500 jobs cut.
Unite the union hit out at Sainsbury’s, demanding compulsory redundancies for cafe workers should be ruled out.
Unite national officer for food, drink and agriculture, Bev Clarkson, said: “Our members showed great loyalty to Sainsbury’s during the pandemic. They served their communities during lockdown and ensured Sainsbury’s flourished when other businesses flatlined.
“Now Sainsbury’s must repay them by keeping job losses to an absolute minimum and ruling out compulsory redundancies,” she said.