UK retailers are squandering up to £2bn of their yearly wage bill through mismanagement of back office tasks.

Research by global management consultancy Kurt Salmon Associates found duplicated tasks and inconsistent procedures were eating into some 7.5% of retailers' annual labour bill.

Typically 40% of store staff hours were wasted, the study of European and North American clients found.

"If non customer-facing tasks were made more efficient, staff could spend more time on customer facing activity," said Sue Butler, a senior manager at KSA. "This would result in an increase in sales and potentially a lower wage bill."