Two-thirds of Tesco's suppliers in the Republic of Ireland "strongly believe" they will be forced to let staff go as a result of its decision to import more products from the UK.

Tesco claims the policy is intended to reduce prices, as it has done in 11 Irish border stores, and stem the shopper exodus to Northern Ireland. But in a survey of suppliers by Irish International BBDO, a brands ad agency, only 4% felt the new sourcing policy was in the best interests of the consumer, while 63% said it would threaten jobs.

More than 60% of respondents felt their business and capacity to compete had been damaged by Tesco's decision, while 80% claimed their shelf space had been reduced.

Tesco is reported to have changed the layouts in nine stores to give UK brands more space, though without cutting prices as it has done along the border.

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