Waitrose has revealed plans to cut an entire level of management as well as closing five of its stores, jeopardising over 500 jobs.
The role of department manager will be scrapped across Waitrose’s 350 store estate, removing 180 jobs.
Although there are 486 department managers in the company, the majority of these will become deputy store managers.
The grocer will reportedly rely on retirement, natural turnover and voluntary redundancy to reduce staff numbers over three years.
It also announced plans to shut stores in Staines, Leek, Huntington, Cardiff Queen Street and Hertford, with another store in Palmers Green planned to be replaced by a new local outlet in Winchmore Hill.
Waitrose retail director told Ben Stimson The Guardian: “We’d always try hard to avoid closing branches, but we review how our branches are doing commercially and respond where we have to.
“We’ll be consulting with our (staff) on these proposed closures and will give them all the support they need.
“We’ve successfully trialled a flexible way of working that enables us to give even better service to our customers.
“We now plan to adopt this model in all our supermarkets.”
This announcement follows a change in direction for Waitrose, as expansion plans were scrapped in favour of improving existing stores with the introduction of cafes, wine bars and sushi counters.
Waitrose posted Christmas trading gross sales up by 4.8 per cent to £914.9 million, with like-for-like sales up 2.8 per cent.
Charlie Mayfield, the retailer’s chairman, warned of a challenging year ahead for the grocer.