In the week Morrisons confirmed it was shedding 2,600 jobs as part of a store management restructure, The Co-operative Group is piloting new processes in its food stores that could also lead to major redundancies, The Grocer can reveal.

The society, which has nearly 70,000 staff in its food business, is piloting a new system of working called S3 Store Standards, designed to make its 2,779 stores operate more efficiently.

This system sees stores adopt ‘simple standards’, with, for example, reorganised back-office storage areas so shelves can be replenished more quickly. As part of this process, the number of staff needed has also been reassessed.

A Co-op Group spokesman confirmed the move could result in “a reduction in the total number of hours for colleagues in some stores, as well as a need to change some of the current working patterns”.

“We are currently in discussions with colleagues to discuss the potential impact of this and how any changes may be implemented, but we are not in a position to confirm the full details of the impact at this stage,” he added.

One member of staff who contacted The Grocer claimed the society was looking to cut shop floor staff by more than a third. However, this was strongly denied by The Co-op.

“Some small shops have three to four members at all times and shops twice the size have two staff members,” the staff member said. “Full-time contracts are to be replaced by part-time contracts with staff expected to work full-time hours… no break cover, no extra staff to action deliveries and a permanent feeling of playing ‘catch up’.”

Staff also expressed concern on The Co-op Group’s staff Facebook page. “We have four tills in our store and yet have gone from five to six staff a shift to three staff per shift!” one posted. “The workload is still the same and they still want processes followed but there isn’t enough staff!”

However, others have been more positive.

“I’m just starting it now and as a store with a huge inflexibility problem I can’t wait. I think it’s been a long time coming, though my store isn’t facing redundancies,” another posted.

The Co-op Group spokesman added the move was designed to “drive efficiencies and deliver savings that can be invested in providing an improved shopping experience for customers”.

“Introducing new technology and improved working methods allows us to reduce hours currently spent on non-customer facing activities and to reinvest the savings,” the spokesman added.

Store staff restructures

Morrisons: This week confirmed it was axing 2,600 jobs as part of a store management restructure that would involve “reducing in-store management tiers, simplifying responsibilities and improving customer service”.

Asda: Revealed plans in May to put 4,100 store managerial jobs into consultation. It plans to ditch department manager roles from some stores and create section leaders, as well as new deputy manager, trading manager and section manager roles.

Tesco: The Grocer revealed Tesco was piloting a shake-up of its in-store management in March. Currently being trialled in 12 stores in the East Midlands, the move could see team leader positions scrapped.