Sainsbury’s has denied it will close stores or cut jobs if its merger with Asda goes ahead.
Between them the companies have four stores in Canterbury, employing hundreds of people and supplying thousands of customers a week.
But Sainsbury’s chief financial officer Kevin O’Byrne told Sky News this morning that there would be no closures and no job losses as a result of the deal.
And he insisted that the deal was not a takeover by Sainsbury’s, but a merger which would see both retain their brand identities.
Speaking from the London Stock Exchange, Mr O’Byrne said: “This is a merger of two great brands who both have unique positions in the minds of the UK customers.
“Combining them together makes an even stronger more dynamic business which allows us to invest in the business and reduce prices for customers.”
Asked whether there would be job losses, Mr O’Byrne said: “The combination of these two businesses is creating a really strong employer with a really strong balance sheet.
“There are no plans because of this transaction to close any stores and we will run the two brands separately with two head offices with separate management teams and separate managing directors focusing on looking after their local customers.”
Mr O’Byrne added that the merger would create one of the UK’s largest employers with a workforce of 330,000.
Sainsbury’s has three outlets in Canterbury: the supermarket at Kingsmead and the Local stores at Old Dover Road and St Dunstan’s Street. Asda has a supermarket in Sturry Road.
The merger is in part a reaction to the growing strength of online grocery firms and cut-price supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl who are increasing their portion of the UK market share. Both German firms have stores in Canterbury.
Amazon are also making a move into food retailing.
Mr O’Byrne said the landscape of food retailing had “changed beyond recognition” in the last 10 years and “was more competitive than ever”.
Shares in Sainsbury’s went up 20% this morning following confirmation of the merger with Asda.