Tesco has sought to calm fears among staff of a major round of management redundancies as it pilots a restructure across its stores.

The restructure will see the scrapping of team leader positions at stores, with the exception, it is believed, of checkout and dotcom roles. Tesco said it planned to reduce the number of traditional team leader positions to reflect new multichannel shopping habits.

Staff are being consulted at 12 stores in the East Midlands including Lincoln, Wellingborough, Corby, Kettering, Mereway and Weston Favell, with reports a nationwide rollout could come later in the year. It is thought that all team leaders will be consulted and offered a redundancy package or to change to a lower-paid customer assistant role.

News of the changes were met with anger by many Tesco staff, with one forum receiving more than 14,000 views in the last few days. One described the move as “shockingly bad news.”

However, Tesco was adamant the changes did not represent a climbdown on its drive to improve service in store or a bid to claw back costs after its poor trading performance.

“Customers are shopping in different ways and it’s becoming a multichannel experience,” a Tesco spokesman said. “We are trying to reflect that in terms of service and availability. Previous ways of working, which have been very effective, will be looked at to see if we can make them work better for our customers.”

He added: “We’re consulting with a small number of staff whose roles may change as a result of this and we’re working hard to find them alternative roles.”

An Usdaw spokesperson added: “Local Usdaw officials representing staff in the pilot stores have been fully briefed. There are on-going discussions between Tesco and Usdaw’s national officer on this matter.”

More on this story: Tesco shake-up plan sparks staff backlash