According to BBC News, Tesco said it will convert 58 of its bakeries so that they only finish pre-baked products on site.
Bakeries at 257 locations will reportedly remain unchanged.
Jason Tarry, CEO of Tesco UK & Ireland, said the chain needed to “adapt to changing customer demand” as fewer people are buying traditional baked loaves in favour of wraps, bagels and flatbreads.
He added: "We know this will be very difficult for our colleagues who are affected, and our priority is to support them through this process. We hope that many will choose to stay with us in alternative roles.”
Tesco said it will have thousands of alternative vacancies available across its stores between February and May.
James Green, director and employment law expert at Burges Salmon told HR magazine that it was now likely Tesco will be required to enter into collective consultation with USDAW about the propsed redundancies.
He said: “We have already seen a strong reaction from the union and USDAW will press Tesco hard on the business rationale for its proposals. Tesco will need to approach those discussions with an open mind and be ready to consider and respond to the union’s proposals.”
He added that the consultation must include discussion about ways redundancies can be avoided or at least reduce and suggested it may not be possible to avoid job losses.
“Ultimately [Tesco] will be able to make these redundancies even in the face of strong union opposition,” he said.
Pauline Foulkes, national officer at USDAW, confirmed the union will be working closely with bakery employees, but it’s unlikely that everyone affected will be able to move into another role.
She said: “This is devastating and upsetting news for our members who work in the bakery operations. USDAW will be entering into collective consultation with Tesco to consider the business case for these planned changes over the coming weeks.
“Many of those affected by the proposed changes are skilled workers. While we will do everything possible to maintain jobs or support impacted staff to redeploy into alternative roles, the reality is the opportunities to find suitable alternative skilled roles may be limited for these workers.”
Miranda Burgum, head of people at GAIL’s Bakery, told HR magazine the news was a loss of skills.
She said: “It’s a shame to hear the potential risk to jobs of those who have mastered the skill and craft of baking, which is still in high demand.
“We have seen a significant increase in consumer trends preferring freshly-baked products over the past two years.”