Asda introduces four-day work week

Asda braces for its first-ever strike later this month

Mohsin (left) and Zuber Issa

Pramod Thomas

ISSA brothers, owners of ASDA, have initiated a trial for a four-day workweek in an effort to rebuild relations with senior employees, reported The Telegraph.

The trial comes in response to a wave of dissatisfaction fueled by extensive cost-cutting measures and concerns over the company’s corporate culture, leading to a mass exodus of managers.

A presentation released late last year disclosed the details of Asda’s “leadership structure trial” as the management grappled with a significant 13.9 per cent increase in turnover among retail managers in 2022.

The document highlighted that the high rate of attrition has adversely affected the stability and capability of store teams, subsequently impacting both the colleague experience and, by extension, customer satisfaction.

As part of their pursuit for a “case for change” among store managers, Asda is conducting the four-day week trial, set to conclude later this month.

The trial also encompasses experiments with other flexible working arrangements, including shorter shifts, demonstrating a commitment to rebuilding relations with senior employees, the report added.

At present, the giant faces the impending challenge of grappling with billions of pounds in debt and finds itself trailing behind competitors Tesco and Sainsbury’s in terms of market share. Ongoing scrutiny is directed toward the management of Asda by the Issa brothers.

Despite their significant investment in Asda after acquiring it from Walmart in a debt-fueled £6.8 billion deal three years ago, the supermarket’s market share has experienced a decline from 14.2 per cent to 13.6 per cent over the past year.

Asda braces for its first-ever strike later this month, with employees at a Gosport superstore planning to walk out.

Former Asda store managers, critical of the Issa brothers’ management, have voiced concerns about the company’s trajectory. One former-employee, who left after just two years, accused the brothers of running the business into the ground, citing a breakdown in processes and a lack of adherence to established protocols.

In response to these allegations, a source close to Asda dismissed the claims, emphasising the significant investments made by the current owners in contrast to the latter years of Walmart’s ownership.

Nadine Houghton, a national officer at GMB Union, highlighted the daily grievances of “disgruntled managers” facing increased pressure to operate stores with fewer resources.

She asserted that a reduction in managers’ weekly working hours, while a step in the right direction, does not address the core issues affecting store operations.

“Since September 2023, we have been trialling a variety of flexible working patterns for managers in 20 stores, including a four-day working week for the same pay and benefits,” an Asda spokesman was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

“There has been no reduction in the number of hours that hourly-paid colleagues are contracted to work as a result of this trial.

“While we are still evaluating the results, the feedback from participating colleagues has been very positive.

“Asda has also invested a total of £325m in increasing pay for both store-based and logistics colleagues since 2022. For the record, Asda saw a 6pc reduction in colleague turnover between 2022 and 2023.”