Sainsbury’s is to open six new food colleges across the UK.

The colleges will offer training to staff working on the retailer’s meat, fish, deli and hot food counters, as well as it in-store cafés.

As many as 8,500 staff a year are expected to attend the colleges, to learn everything from knife skills to customer service.

“Sainsbury’s has an unrivalled heritage of offering fresh food dating back over 141 years and our counters are an integral part of this,” said Gwyn Burr, Sainsbury’s customer and colleague director.

“We believe that the skills that our colleagues will learn and develop at the Colleges will play a big part in our future success.”

Sainsbury’s also plans to recruit an additional 500 staff to work on its counters and cafes over the next year to meet increased demand from customers for food from the counters.