Safeway communications director Kevin Hawkins said the employees believed they had been "treated unfairly", but he blamed lack of communication for the misunderstanding.
The Christmas bonus scheme is linked to overall company performance targets in the first six months of its financial year, while bonuses for store management teams are also linked to store performance. As a result, staff at top-performing stores will receive nothing while the management team receives a bonus. Hawkins said: "Authority has been decentralised to the store management teams. As a result they have more responsibility and therefore it is reasonable for them to have a separate bonus scheme tied to store performance.
"With performance related systems there are swings and roundabouts. Obviously there is disappointment, but the second half of the year is another opportunity for us to go at."
Safeway introduced a Bonus for Everyone scheme two years ago which offered employees the opportunity to receive a results-oriented bonus at Christmas and in summer.