Supermarket chain Morrisons is to outsource a sizeable slice of its transport operation, alongside several vehicle maintenance departments to Wincanton.

A spokesman told "We are transferring our transport departments at three sites and vehicle maintenance departments at five sites to be operated by logistics specialists Wincanton, who will provide this service for us.

”No jobs will be affected."

Wincanton’s five-year contract will see it manage transport planning and operations for goods travelling to Morrisons stores from three northern DCs. understands these to be located in Stockton, County Durham; Wakefield, West Yorks; and Gadbrook, Cheshire.

Wincanton will also be responsible for vehicle maintenance through its fleet management business, Pullman Fleet Services, at five Morrisons sites.

In a statement, Adrian Colman, CEO of Wincanton, said: "This significant new contract with Morrisons further underlines our position as a leading logistics provider in the grocery retail market.

“As a business, we pride ourselves on our exemplary approach to safety while providing high quality operations of scale that can be flexed to support our customers in a competitive industry.

"We are delighted to have been appointed by such a recognisable brand and look forward to supporting the operation and its network of stores throughout the country."

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The outsourcing decision is however facing scrutiny from union Unite, who represents more than 500 of the 654 employees working in transport at the affected sites.

“The reaction has been one of anger,” said Unite national officer Adrian Jones, as the deal had been signed already.

It has been a “very emotive issue” for staff, he added, many of whom have been long-term employees at the supermarket business.

Unite is heading into talks with Morrisons and Wincanton next week.

It will be calling for a postponement to any transfer to enable sufficient time to consult with members.

This latest announcement about Morrisons’ distribution network follows its expanded partnership with online giant Amazon, which will see its Prime Now same-day grocery delivery service rolled out to more UK cities.